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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

House OKs short-term extension of transportation funding; Senate set to vote on long-term bill


The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday passed a short-term surface transportation bill that would extend federal funding of transit and highway programs at current levels through Oct. 29.

The bill transfers $2 billion from the general fund to the Highway Trust Fund’s (HTF) Mass Transit Account, and $6 billion to the HTF, according to a “Legislative Alert" from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).

This revenue would come from a combination of tax compliance measures and the extension of aviation security fees, as the House included in its previously passed five-month extension bill.

"We'll take up that bill once the House sends it to us, and we'll continue working in the interim to finish our own multi-year highway bill, a bill that's fiscally responsible and won't raise taxes by a penny," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

Meanwhile, the Senate agreed to the text of McConnell's six-year transportation bill, which would extend the deadline for positive train control (PTC) implementation to 2018. The chamber also agreed to limit debate of the bill by vote of 65-35, according to APTA.

The final text of McConnell's bill included an amendment authorizing $199 million in grants for the implementation of PTC at public commuter railroads. The proposed legislation also includes increases authorizations for federal transit programs by 25 percent over six years.

The bill is now set for a vote on final passage around noon today, APTA officials said.

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More News from 7/30/2015