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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

U.S. Reps. Shuster, Rahall name panel on public-private partnerships; Democrats seek hearing on Highway Trust Fund options

Yesterday, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) and Ranking Member Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) announced the creation of a special panel to focus on the potential for public-private partnerships in transportation, economic development, public buildings, water and maritime infrastructure and equipment.

U.S. Rep. John Duncan (R-Tenn.) will chair the panel, and U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) will serve as ranking member.

"Chairman Duncan and the members of the … panel will examine the role of public-private partnerships in our infrastructure and where greater opportunities may exist to leverage resources at the federal, state, and local level," said Shuster in a press release. "The panel's recommendations will be used as the Committee continues to develop future legislation."

This week, Shuster's committee held the first hearing on the next reauthorization of surface transportation programs, which it aims to develop this year. The committee will use the panel's work in drafting the legislation.

Meanwhile, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-Mich.) and 14 other Democrats asked Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) to hold a hearing as soon as possible on future funding options for the federal Highway Trust Fund.

"Our transportation programs will begin to feel the drop in funding this summer, when the Highway Trust Fund's available cash on hand is likely to fall below $4 billion, which is the minimum amount necessary to maintain a sufficient balance to meet week-to-week obligations," the lawmakers stated in a letter to Camp. "Below this amount, reimbursements to states will be delayed, construction projects will be curtailed, and jobs will be lost throughout the economy."

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More News from 1/17/2014