U.S. Sen. David Vitter today helped get the highway transportation reauthorization legislation known as Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) passed through the U.S. Senate. Vitter, along with EPW Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Ranking Member Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) are the original co-sponsors of the bill.
Vitter is the ranking member of the subcommittee that had jurisdiction of the bill and worked to get it passed through the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee unanimously in November, 2011. If needed, Vitter will be on the Conference Committee to reconcile the Senate bill with the House bill.
"Our bipartisan highway bill is a jobs bill, an infrastructure bill which is designed to succeed and can succeed," Vitter said. "Our reform approach, which has zero earmarks, will allow Louisiana and the metropolitan planning organizations greater flexibility to work together with the private sector to meet their transportation needs -- with much less federal bureaucracy slowing down the process.
"Passing this bill with the RESTORE Act included is also a big, big win in the fight to save our coast," Vitter added. "And as a leading Republican conferee tasked to hammer out the final version of this highway bill, I'll place keeping the RESTORE language in the bill as an absolute top priority."
Louisiana transportation infrastructure projects will also benefit from an increased rate of return from this legislation. Louisiana has previously been called a "donor state' because for every dollar the state contributed to the federal government, the state would get approximately $0.94 return. This bill would increase the rate of return for Louisiana to 106 percent, meaning the state would be getting $1.06 in return for each dollar the state contributes to the federal government.
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 is set to expire on March 31.