Transit funding a flashpoint in surface transportation debate

The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act expires on Sept. 30, having received a one-year extension to its authorization last year. With that deadline fast approaching, Democrats, Republicans and lobbyists are positioning for a fight over its future and the future of the nation’s transportation funding model. House Democrats last Friday introduced the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America (INVEST in America) Act, a $547 billion, five-year re-authorization bill. Included in the bill, which Democrats first introduced last year, is $109 billion for transit, which committee leaders called “record investments.” The purpose of the money is to increase routes and reduce public transportation’s maintenance backlog, which previous estimates have indicated will cost around $90 billion. Re-authorization has made some progress in the U.S. Senate. Late last month, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works unanimously passed the Surface Transportation Re-authorization Act. In a statement, U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., who chairs the committee, called it a “vital first down payment on President Biden’s American Jobs Plan.”

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