President Obama Expected to Release Proposed Transportation Bill

The news agency BNA is reporting that the president appears likely to release his proposed draft of a transportation bill soon. The administration is circulating a partial draft of its proposed bill [PDF], signaling that a release could be imminent.

The administration rarely writes its own legislative language to submit to Congress, and indeed, the language that comes out of the House and Senate committees with jurisdiction over transportation will be more significant, as those are the bodies that eventually vote on the bill. Still, this is the first look we’ve seen at official legislative text.

The 224-page draft, along with a 61-page analysis that’s circulating along with it, does not appear to hold many surprises for those who paid attention to the administration’s February announcement of Obama’s transportation priorities. BNA’s Adam Snider warns that USDOT “would not confirm the validity of the document, which a lobbyist warned might be an early draft that has subsequently changed.”

Snider reports that one significant addition is more information on a program to allow states to do their own environmental impact statements, to avoid letting projects get bottlenecked in the federal pipeline. This issue came up many times in House and Senate stakeholder meetings. Especially in the context of a small bill, people are looking for efficiencies and savings everywhere they can, and the environmental review process has been identified as a prime place to speed up project delivery.

Whether Obama’s bill is submitted to Congress over today or next week, we can expect to see it soon, as both houses are getting down to business on their own versions of the transportation reauthorization, which they both want to pass out of committee by Memorial Day.