Senate Amendments Promote Local (Not State) Control, Bridge Repair

The Senate is voting right now on the final amendments to the transportation bill and will consider the full bill later today. Transportation for America has put out a handy amendment tracker, reproduced below, with descriptions of each one and the final outcomes of the votes that happened yesterday. Senate leaders had already tossed out many amendments that had been introduced and agreed to consider the 30 below.

The first table is transportation-related amendments; the second one is non-transportation-related amendments.

Senator and # Description Outcome or Notes
Cardin-Cochran 1549 Local Access and Control This provides local communities and metropolitan regions with access to the “Additional Activities” pot of funding through a competitive grant program — funding that they can use for main street revitalizations, boulevard conversions, new bike facilities, or safety improvements to make streets safer for everyone. Large metro areas will receive some funds directly. Read our explainer on the amendment here Adopted into Senate manager’s amendment package on 3/1/12.

Amendment text (pdf)

Franken-Blunt 1543 Bridge Repair This would help provide adequate funding and flexibility to states to repair and rehabilitate the 180,000 federal-aid bridges that are not on the National Highway System (NHS). These bridges would become eligible for a 40% share of the main highway program funds (National Highway Performance Program) that aren’t currently required for repairing the National Highway System. Adopted into Senate manager’s amendment package on 3/1/12.

One-pager on federal-aid bridges (pdf)

Amendment text (pdf)

Landrieu 1630 Protecting MPOs from State Penalties This ensures that metropolitan areas (MPOs) aren’t left on the hook for financial penalties if states do not meet their state requirements for fixing roads and bridges or develop a state highway safety plan. Adopted into Senate manager’s amendment package on 3/1/12.

Amendment text (pdf)

Blunt-Casey 1540 Repairing Non-Federal-aid Bridges This would require states to dedicate a specific percentage of their highway funds to repairing bridges that are not on the National Highway System and also not located on a Federal-aid highway. The amendment passed by an unrecorded voice vote.
DeMint 1756 Turning federal program over to states This would transfer most responsibility for surface transportation to states and remove many regulatory requirements. The Federal government would continue to fund Interstate maintenance, transportation research, and safety. Finally, this amendment would end all dedicated funding for transit programs. The amendment failed, by a count of 30-67.
Bingaman 1759 Privatized highways This would reduce the amount of Federal highway money states receive each year to account for roads that have been privatized, The majority of Federal highway dollars are sent to states based on the total number of lane miles, this ensures that states don’t get federal money based on including lane-miles that they’re not actually responsible for maintaining. The amendment passed by a count of 50-47.
Coats 1517 State spending caps Under this amendment, states would get back only what they put into the Highway Trust Fund in a given fiscal year, defeating the ability of a federal program to shift revenues based on important regional or national purposes. The amendment failed, by a count of 28-70.
Brown (OH) 1819 Buy America This would apply “Buy American” requirements to all highway and transit projects. This would ensure that a higher percentage of manufactured goods and commodities (e.g. steel, concrete, etc.) are produced within the United States. The amendment passed by an unrecorded voice vote.
Merkley 1653 Farm vehicle exemptions This would exempt certain farm vehicles, including the individual operating that vehicle, from certain requirements, including commercial drivers’ licenses, drug testing, and certifications The amendment passed by an unrecorded voice vote.
Portman 1736 Gas tax flexibility States would keep their gas taxes and be able to essentially “opt-out” of the federal surface transportation program entirely. Transportation projects developed by states that “opt-out” would not be subject to any Federal highway, transit, and related environmental regulations. The amendment failed, by a count of 30-68.
Klobuchar 1617 Ag transportation This amendment would exempt drivers from maximum driving and on-duty regulations for drivers of agricultural farm supplies and agricultural products during planting and harvesting periods. The amendment passed by an unrecorded voice vote.
Corker 1785 Discretionary spending cap adjustment This amendment would cut discretionary spending by $20 billion on top of the cuts Congress already has agreed to. The amendment failed, by a count of 40-58.
Shaheen 1678 Small bus systems Public transportation providers that operate between 50 and 75 buses would be allowed the flexibility to use a portion of their federal funds to cover the cost of operations. Systems operating fewer than 50 buses would be permitted to use a larger share of their federal funds to cover the cost of operations. This amendment was withdrawn by the sponsor.
Portman 1742 Rest areas This amendment would allow states to permit any non-highway use in any rest area along any highway, including any commercial activity that does not impair the highway or interfere with the full use and safety of the highway. The amendment failed, by a count of 12-86.
Corker 1810 Limitation on expenditures Beginning in 2005, Congress authorized spending more money each year from the Highway Trust Fund than it took in, resulting in declining balances. This amendment would eliminate this practice and ensure that expenditures from the Fund were equal to amounts deposited for a given fiscal year. This amendment was withdrawn by the sponsor.
Carper 1670 Tolling This amendment would expand the ability of states to apply for authority to toll certain Federal-aid highways, with proceeds available for investments in the corridor, helping to create alternatives in that tolled corridor. This amendment was withdrawn by the sponsor.
Hutchison 1568 Tolls This would reduce the ability of states to apply to USDOT for authority to toll certain Federal-aid highways This amendment was withdrawn by the sponsor.
McCain 1669 Grand Canyon – noise abatement This would exempt certain commercial air tour aircraft from noise restrictions, air traffic control restrictions (minimum altitude requirements) and environmental restrictions. In addition, it would set a 15 year deadline for conversion of air tour aircrafts operating in the Grand Canyon National Park to certain quiet technologies. This amendment was superseded by provisions in the manager’s package and withdrawn by the sponsor.
Alexander 1779 Over-flights of national parks The amendment passed by an unrecorded voice vote.
Boxer 1816 Emergency exemptions This “Sense of the Senate” resolution urges agencies to take advantage of procedures in current law to move expeditiously when rebuilding after a disaster. The amendment passed by a 76-20 count.
Paul 1556 Emergency exemptions for projects When rebuilding any project closed due to safety reasons, this would exempt those projects from environmental reviews, approvals, licensing and permit requirements for rebuilding a project that was closed due to safety reasons. The amendment failed by a count of 42-54. (Technically, a vote on the amendment was not permitted because a point of order against it was sustained. The motion to waive the point of order failed to reach the required 60 votes.)

Senator and # Description Status and notes
Vitter 1535 Outer Continental Shelf Allows the proposed 2010-2015 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program to bypass the environmental review process required by NEPA – thereby approving it. Failed to reach the required 60 votes, falling 46-52.
Baucus Regarding rural schools Passed with more than the required 60 votes by 82-16.
Collins 1660 Boiler MACT This amendment nullifies existing protections against mercury and toxic air pollution from incinerators and industrial boilers, then delays compliance with any new standards by a minimum of 3.5 years. This reduces EPA’s current environmental quality standards for industrial boilers and eliminates national emission standards for hazardous air pollutants for major sources, area sources, and industrial, commercial, and institutional boilers and process heaters. Failed to reach the required 60 votes, falling 52-46.
Coburn 1738 OMB/Duplicative Programs This would cut the discretionary funding caps by another $10 billion from the recently agreed upon level in the Budget Control Act (BCA). Failed to reach the required 60 votes, falling 52-46.
Nelson FL-Shelby-Landrieu 1822 RESTORE (the Gulf) This would address a key recommendation of the President’s National Oil Spill Commission to direct 80% of Clean Water Act penalties collected as a result of the BP Gulf oil disaster towards restoration of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem. Passed with more than the required 60 votes by 76-22.
Wyden 1817 Keystone pipeline This prohibits oil exported through the Keystone XL pipeline to be sold internationally. Failed to reach the required 60 votes, falling 34-64.
Hoeven 1537 Keystone pipeline This would have Congress approve the already-rejected Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline without necessary environmental review or a process to determine if the project is in the national interest. Failed to reach the required 60 votes, falling 56-42.
Levin 1818 Offshore Tax Havens Adds special measures for jurisdictions, financial institutions, or international transactions that are of primary money laundering concern or significantly impede United States tax enforcement. Passed by an unrecorded voice vote.
Roberts 1826 Energy Tax Extenders This bill is offered as a side-by-side to Stabenow’s 1812 but also including approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. Failed to reach the required 60 votes, falling 41-57.
Stabenow 1812 Energy Tax Extenders This includes provisions to extend critical incentives that support renewable energy and energy efficiency. It extends the renewable energy production tax credit, the 48C manufacturing tax credit, the 1603 Treasury Program, the efficient existing and new homes tax credit and the efficient appliances tax credit, allows for the inclusion of algae in biofuel incentives and expands the 48C investment tax credit to offshore wind. Failed to reach the required 60 votes, falling 49-49.
DeMint 1589 Repeal of energy tax subsidies This would repeal incentives for clean energy, including the renewable energy production and investment tax credits, and the cellulosic biofuel tax credit, as well as subsidies for traditional fossil fuel industries. Failed to reach the required 60 votes, falling 26-72.
Menendez-Burr 1782 Alternative vehicles (natural gas) This would promote the purchase and use of natural gas vehicles with an emphasis on heavy-duty and fleet vehicles. Failed to reach the required 60 votes, falling 51-47.



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 […]

Transportation Enhancements Program Beats Back Another Assault

A Republican lawmaker purporting to be acting out of budgetary concern has, once again, taken aim at a popular active transportation program — and, again, the Senate has rejected the effort. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) today offered an amendment that would have greatly restricted, but not reduced, funding for the national Transportation Enhancements program, which consumes just one-and-a-half […]

Day One of Votes: Senate OKs Two Amendments, Rejects Keystone Pipeline

After two consecutive failed attempts, floor votes are finally proceeding on the Senate’s two-year, $109 billion transportation bill. The votes come on the heels of an agreement between party leaders Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell, which will allow certain non-transportation-related amendments to be voted on. As part of the deal, those amendments will require 60 […]

Boxer Okays Senate Climate Bill, Without Amendments or GOP

The Senate environment committee approved its climate change bill today on an 11-1 vote, shrugging off a boycott by all of the panel’s Republicans but missing out on the chance to consider amendments to the lengthy legislation. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) (Photo: AP) The environment panel’s chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) had offered Republicans several days […]

Tell Your Senator to Support Transit and Green Jobs, Not Highways

Update: Hold those phone calls, folks. Schumer has co-sponsored the Murray/Feinstein amendment, making it highly unlikely that he will offer his own, superior amendment. There are more amendments in the wings — supported by Senate Republicans and some surprising Democrats — that would give highway builders even greater leeway to build dirty, traffic-generating boondoggles. We’ll […]