Washington Report

Advocacy Updates from Washington D.C.

Senate Passes Two-Year Surface Transportation Authorization Bill

March 19, 2012

By a 74-22 vote, the Senate passed on March 14 a long-term surface transportation authorization known as "MAP-21" ("Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century"). The bill largely maintains current funding levels for federal transportation programs over the next two years, with some changes to program structures and policies. NAR supported several provisions of the bill during the legislative process, including a "Complete Streets" policy and provisions that increase local control of funds that can be used for smaller-scale infrastructure projects. Unlike past authorizations of five or more years, this only provides two years of the funding certainty necessary for projects to go forward.

The U.S. House of Representatives has not succeeded in bringing a long-term authorization to the floor because of a lack of support for the version approved by the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee. House leadership is still at work on an alternative. With the current authorization expiring March 31, many observers believe another short-term extension will be necessary.

Traffic congestion imposes costs throughout the economy. Further delays and funding uncertainty for much-needed transportation projects, particularly those that allow communities to grow and contribute to walkable, stable, and vibrant neighborhoods, may negatively affect property values and inhibit development. NAR has been working as a member of the Transportation for America coalition to shape the next authorization bill to ensure that (1) federal transportation money is spent on projects that serve all users, and (2) policy changes are implemented to increase local discretion and improve the prospects of alternative modes.

S. 1813 (passed 74-22 on 3/14/12)
NAR letter (supporting local-control amendment)
H.R. 7 (withdrawn from floor consideration in February 2012 due to lack of support)
Transportation For America Coalition Statement (on Passage of S. 1813)
Transportation For America Coalition Comparison (of Senate and House Bills)
NAR Transportation Policy

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