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Congressional Research Service Reports
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RL32226, Highway and Transit Program Reauthorization Legislation in the 2nd Session, 108th Congress (pdf)

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 legislation.

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.
[read report]

* 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.