Today, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee unanimously approved S.1813, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), a bill to reauthorize the nation's transportation programs for two years, illustrating broad bipartisan support for passage by the full Senate. The legislation is cosponsored by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Ranking Member of the Committee, Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee, and Senator David Vitter (R-LA), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee.
Senator Boxer said: "Thanks to all of our Members for working with us to develop this important legislation. By moving forward with a unanimous vote on MAP-21 today, this Committee sends a strong signal that we are serious about job creation and getting our economy back on track. This cooperation is a rare win for bipartisanship, and I believe it will provide encouragement to the Finance Committee as they work to ensure full funding for this two-year effort."
Senator Inhofe said: "Today's unanimous vote in Committee in support of our highway bill shows that momentum is on our side in the Senate to pass this important jobs legislation. I am pleased to have worked with Senators Boxer, Vitter and Baucus and commend them for their efforts. The next step is to address the $12 billion shortfall in funding. With the dedication of Senators Baucus and Crapo, and the rest of the Finance Committee, I am confident we will find the needed funds. Doing so is essential to jump-start the economy for Oklahoma and the nation."
Senator Baucus said: "This bill presents an important opportunity for people to work together and create jobs for the good of our country. People of all walks of life and every political background rely on strong roads and safe transportation to live, work and raise their families. Because Montana is a highway state, we know firsthand that investing in transportation infrastructure creates good-paying jobs in the short term and for the long haul. Highways are our lifeblood in Montana and this bill is a good place for us to find common ground for our nation."
Senator Vitter said: "Our bipartisan highway bill is a jobs bill, an infrastructure bill which is designed to succeed and can succeed. Our reform approach, which has zero earmarks, will allow the state and MPOs greater flexibility to work together with the private sector to meet their local transportation needs - with much less federal bureaucracy slowing down the process."
The legislation maintains funding at current levels, reforms the nation's transportation programs to make them more efficient, and provides robust assistance for transportation projects under the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program to leverage state, local, and private-sector funding.
The current surface transportation bill expires on March 31, and many groups, ranging from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to the AFL-CIO, have called for immediate action to reauthorize the nation's transportation programs. S. 1813 will now go to the full Senate for consideration, where it will be combined with measures from the Senate Committee on Finance, Committee on Commerce, Science and
Transportation, and Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.