U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) today voted in favor of the transportation bill conference report, which authorizes federal highway programs for the next two years and includes an extension of the current student loan interest rate. The package also contains a five-year reform of the federal flood insurance program, which will help Nebraskans impacted by the Missouri River flooding.
"This legislation is good news for anyone who drives our highways, lives in flood-prone areas, or endeavors to begin college," said Johanns. "It's also earmark-free, sending a message that Congress was serious about our earmark ban. The bill also provides relief for college undergraduate students obtaining subsidized Stafford loans this year. Unfortunately, recent college graduates are facing a job market where half their peers are either unemployed or underemployed, thus it is important that we extend this relief for our young people."
Earlier this year, Johanns offered an amendment stripping an earmark in the transportation bill that passed the Senate, which directed funds to Nevada. The earmark was not included in the final conference report that was considered today.
The conference report also streamlines agencies' environmental review process by implementing deadlines for completion.
The federal flood insurance program, which was set to expire on July 31, is reauthorized and reformed in the conference report. Johanns worked to ensure the legislation included language clarifying the dates of the recent Missouri River floods. This clarification will allow Nebraskans impacted by the flooding to receive their full flood insurance benefits.
The legislation also extends for one year the current 3.4 percent subsidized Stafford loan interest rate, which was scheduled to double on July 1.