U.S. DOT Spells Out Priorities For Conference Bill

Hint to lonely hearts everywhere: If you’re looking for some correspondence, join the transportation conference committee. Those folks are getting a lot of mail these days.

Administration priorities for the conference bill came down from headquarters. Photo: ##http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Usdot_headquarters.jpg##Wikipedia##

Everyone from the petrochemical industry to environmental and equity groups [PDF] to state DOT officials [PDF] are penning their missives to committee members, asking for everything from expedited project delivery to fix-it-first to automatic approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.

U.S. DOT got in on the letter-writing campaign last week too, expressing the Obama administration’s priorities for the bill [PDF].

The letter, signed by Secretary Ray LaHood, started off reiterating the promise to veto any bill mandating automatic approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. The administration opposes the GOP’s bid for coal ash deregulation but doesn’t threaten a veto over that issue. It also opposes some of the streamlining proposals made by the House, saying they “would radically change the application of environmental laws” and would undermine the National Environmental Policy Act.

The administration says it “strongly supports local decision-making and boosting the capacity of agencies that perform statewide, metropolitan, and rural transportation planning” — staying agnostic in the battle between state and city power. It supports the Senate’s Buy America language, which the House has instructed its conferees to accept. New Starts, high-speed rail, and TIGER all get a shout-out too.

U.S. DOT supports transit operations funding in times of high unemployment and in the wake of a disaster, and it reminds conferees that the administration’s 2013 budget included $3.2 billion for for transit maintenance. It mentions CMAQ only to oppose a House change to the program that never passed but does not weigh in on the changes to CMAQ in the Senate bill.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

House Members Try to Work Their Will in Conference

|
The 47 members of the transportation bill conference committee have a lot on their plates: The Senate’s MAP-21 bill includes many provisions Republicans don’t like, the House slapped controversial “poison pills” onto its non-bill, and chair Barbara Boxer wants this all wrapped up in a few weeks. On top of all that, members are beginning […]

House Defies Veto Threat, Passes Drill-And-Drive Extension

|
In a brazen but expected display of defiance — both of the President and of bipartisan efforts in the Senate — the House voted today to extend transportation policy through the end of September with several contentious policy changes attached. The bill, whose name (The Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012, Part II) reads like the […]

Stakeholders Beg Conferees to Stop Acting Like Children

|
Sen. Barbara Boxer’s noon press conference started out as a bit of a mess. The Senate press gallery announced it was canceled five minutes before it was due to start. Then three minutes later, the EPW committee sent out a notice that the event had changed locations and would start 20 minutes later. Needless to […]

Getting to Know the Senate Conferees

|
The Senate unveiled its list of conference committee delegates yesterday to a widespread lack of surprise. Ten of the 14 conferees are either chair or ranking member of a committee (or subcommittee) charged with writing part of the Senate transportation bill. Their job will be to defend their work from a House delegation that has […]

Ladies and Gentlemen, Your 2012 Transportation Bill Senate Conferees

|
The Senate has designated the 14 members who will represent the upper chamber on the transportation bill conference committee. The House will designate its own conferees soon, and the entire group will be tasked with reconciling the differences between the Senate’s two-year bill and the 90-day “dirty” extension passed by the House last week. Democrat conferees: […]