House Approves FAA and Surface Transportation Extension
September 13, 2011
Washington, DC – The U.S. House of Representatives today approved an extension to continue programs for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as well as for federal highway, transit and highway safety programs.
H.R. 2887, introduced in the House by Transportation Committee Chairman John L. Mica (R-FL), Transportation Committee Ranking Member Nick J. Rahall (D-WV), Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Tom Petri (R-WI), Highways and Transit Subcommittee Chairman John J. Duncan, Jr. (R-TN), and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI), Ways and Means Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI), and Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), unanimously passed the House.
“While this legislation signifies a bipartisan, bicameral agreement to move forward, it must not be just a temporary band-aid for our important aviation, highway, rail and safety programs and for job creation,” Mica said. “To build our nation’s infrastructure and put people to work, we need long-term authorizations of these programs. Unfortunately, this bill is the 22nd FAA extension and the 8th surface transportation extension. Congress has delayed passing a long-term FAA bill for over four years, and a surface transportation bill for two years. This action represents a last chance to roll up our sleeves and get transportation projects in America moving again.”
“As we saw this summer with the unfortunate two-week partial shutdown of the FAA, until the Senate finally approved the House-passed extension, we cannot afford the chaos and inefficiencies of a shutdown let alone the job impact affecting both public and private sector workers,” said Petri. “We need full reauthorization bills because our nation’s infrastructure is the backbone of our economy and we must have a first class system to support economic growth and remain competitive in the world economy. But until we negotiate the full bills, we need these extensions.”
“I am hopeful this will be our last short-term extension and a comprehensive highway bill can be passed soon,” said Duncan. “By passing a long-term reauthorization bill, Americans will be able to see their tax dollars going towards rebuilding and strengthening our Nation’s highways, bridges, and transit systems. It will create millions of jobs for hard working Americans right here in the United States, not in China or India, and will leave a lasting legacy of tangible improvements to our transportation infrastructure.”
H.R. 2887 authorizes FAA programs through January 31, 2012 at current funding levels. The current extension authorizing FAA programs expires at the end of this week.
The legislation also authorizes federal highway, transit and highway safety programs through March 31, 2012 at current funding levels. The current extension authorizing highway, transit and highway safety programs expires at the end of September.
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Careful examination of the actual Extension informs the reader that only the top six priorities will be funded. This does NOT include RTP!
Please take a moment to urge the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure to bring forward a lasting Surface transportation Bill that fully funds the RTP Program. These talking points may help:
● The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) was created in 1991, reauthorized in 1998, and again in 2005. The RTP has an excellent record of effective use of federal funds over two decades.
● RTP applies the “user-pay/user-benefit” philosophy of the Highway Trust Fund, returning federal tax on fuel used for non-highway recreation to the states for trail projects. Program implementation is consistent in practice with other expenditures from the Highway Trust Fund. Although the gas tax supporting the Fund is paid primarily by gas-using vehicles, resources are shared with other users of both surface transportation facilities and recreational trails -- the goal of each being a balanced system.
● Project categories eligible for funding are many and varied; giving states the flexibility they need to administer state trail programs. A few examples include: trail maintenance and restoration; new trail construction; and trail construction and maintenance equipment. State administrative and educational program costs are capped at 7% and 5% respectively.
● Half of all funding is apportioned to the states equally. The remaining 50% is apportioned among eligible states based upon non-highway recreational fuel use in each of those states during the preceding year.
● Thirty percent of funds are to be spent for uses relating to motorized recreation; 30% are to be spent for uses relating to non-motorized recreation. In addition, 40% shall be used for projects that facilitate diverse trail use.
● RTP is the foundation for state trail programs across the country. It leverages hundreds of millions of dollars of additional support from other sources for trails, encourages productive cooperation among trail users, and facilitates healthy outdoor recreation and associated, badly needed economic activity in countless communities.
● Over 20 years, RTP funding has grown to represent a more equitable portion of the total fuel taxes paid by non-highway recreationists. More than 13,000 funded projects have been documented nationwide. The last year of SAFETEA-LU (multi-year transportation authorization legislation) funded RTP at $85 million. Since 1991, the RTP has received almost $867 million in federal funding.
TRAIL COMMUNITY CONCERNS
● Elimination of RTP from the upcoming surface transportation legislation would violate the user-pay/user-benefit philosophy undergirding the nation’s surface transportation program and would convert a legitimate user fee into an unfair tax, with recreationists subsidizing commercial and private highway users. At the same time, it would seriously damage, if not destroy, the balanced system of trails for all users that the RTP has allowed the states to develop and maintain.
● Elimination of RTP would be the equivalent of raising taxes on non-highway recreationists. Depending on the formula used to calculate the taxes paid by these enthusiasts, the burden could range from $600 million to as much as $2 billion over the life of a six-year bill.
TRAIL COMMUNITY REQUESTS
● As a user-pay/user-benefit program, the RTP should be in T&I Chairman Mica’s bill when it is introduced. Will you ask the Chairman to include the RTP in his bill or in his own planned amendments to the bill?
● If the RTP is not part of the Chairman’s bill as introduced or amended, will you support an amendment to include the RTP in the bill during committee mark up?
● If the RTP is not part of the Chairman’s bill as reported out of committee, will you support an amendment on the House floor to include the RTP in the bill?
Utilize the opportunity to ask that any Bill introduced also make the following modifications to the RTP:
1.increase funding to $690 million over six years: $90/100/110/120/130/140 million;
2.provide $2.5 million in funding for a USDOT study of non-highway recreational fuel use;
3.adjust allowed FHWA administrative expenses to 1% of actual available annual funding, and permit up to 100% federal share for approved administrative expenses and projects;
4.simplify funding provisions for projects on federal lands, incorporating provisions applicable to federal lands highway projects that allow up to 100% federal share;
5.recommit to and codify provisions encouraging use of youth conservation corps and volunteers (see www.corpsnetwork.org/images/stories/transportation/TCN_GuideBook_FINAL.pdf
6.exempt RTP projects from review by Statewide and Metropolitan Transportation Planning processes where the projects are (1) recreational in character, (2) less than $100,000 in total cost and (3) include major volunteer effort; and
7.Allow credit for donated easements and rights-of-way as part of a project’s non-federal cost if done within 18 months of project authorization.
This link will take you the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit’s membership list. Individual contact information can be obtained there:http://transportation.house.gov/Subcommittees/highways-members.shtml