|Congressional Research Service Reports
Redistributed as a Service of the NLE*
RL32226, Highway and Transit Program
Reauthorization Legislation in the 2nd Session, 108th Congress
26-Feb-2004; John W. Fischer; 61 p.
Update: February 26, 2004
Abstract: This report discusses significant legislative provisions in the two principal bills
that are likely to be the subject of congressional discussion in the coming weeks and
months to reauthorize federal highway, highway safety, and transit programs. These
are the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2003
(SAFETEA)(S. 1072)(Senate bill) passed by the Senate on February 12, 2004, and
the not yet acted upon Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (TEALU)(
H.R. 3550)(House bill).
At this juncture, as was the case a year ago, the congressional reauthorization
debate is focused largely on money issues. Identified unmet national transportation
needs and the large funding increases provided by TEA21 have resulted in an
expectation within the highway community that new reauthorization legislation
should also contain significantly higher funding levels. No ready source of new
revenue is available, however, although the Senate has identified several fees and
other revenue raising devices that can be made available to the trust fund.
Other than funding, the provisions of these bills that seem likely to engender the
most controversy are their environmental provisions and the long-standing donordonee
state problem. The House bill and the Senate bill each has (or is likely to have)
provisions designed to streamline the environmental review process required for
highway and transit projects. Both bills try to resolve the tension between so-called
donor and donee states, by seeking to increase funding and creating mechanisms to
guarantee each state a higher rate of return on their proportional contribution to the
highway trust fund (95% in both bills). Without significant new funding it is unlikely
that this adjustment will be possible without taking future funds away from donee
states, a politically unpopular alternative that could complicate final action on this
As now proposed, neither bill makes major structural changes to the core
highway programs. Both bills, however, add new highway programs. This is
especially the case in the House bill which creates, among other things, a multibillion
dollar program to construct projects of national/regional significance. One
area in both bills where significant changes are suggested is in highway safety,
through the creation of a new consolidated highway safety program.
This report does not contain extensive background information about the
operation of the highway, highway safety, and transit programs. Those seeking this
information should consult CRS Report RL31665, Highway and Transit Program
Reauthorization, which also provides a discussion of the major issues under
consideration as part of the reauthorization process.
These CRS reports were produced by the Congressional Research Service, a branch of the Library of Congress providing nonpartisan research reports to members of the House and Senate. The National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) has made these reports available to the public at large, but the Congressional Research Service is not affiliated with the NCSE or the National Library for the Environment (NLE). This web site is not endorsed by or associated with the Congressional Research Service. The material contained in the CRS reports does not necessarily express the views of NCSE, its supporters, or sponsors. The information is provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. NCSE disclaims all warranties, either express or implied, including the warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose. In no event shall NCSE be liable for any damages.