Update: House & Senate Approve Long-Term Surface Transportation Bill

Today, the U.S. House passed the conference report for HR 22, the FAST Act, by a vote of 359-65. The bill s $305 billion worth of transportation funding through 2020. The only Georgian representative to vote against the bill was the 10th District’s Jody Hice.

7th District Rep. Rob Woodall, who serves on House Transportation Committee and was appointed to the conference committee that negotiated the final conference report between the House and Senate versions said this in a prepared statement:

The need for a responsible, long-term vision for our nation’s roads, bridges, and transportation infrastructure isn’t a partisan issue. Today’s vote is the culmination of a lot of hard work and a tremendous partnership between the folks back home and their representatives in Washington. The big things take time, and are often difficult to get across the finish line, but when the American people get involved in the process, good things happen.

This isn’t just a transportation funding bill. It’s a bill that provides the certainty Georgia’s leaders have been looking for; it’s a jobs bill; it’s an economic competitiveness bill; and it’s a safety bill. It refocuses our efforts to ensure commerce flows freely on our highways and provides more flexibility for Georgia to move forward on our projects. This is a bill that affects the daily lives of virtually every American family and business – and they’re the stakeholders whose contribution made today’s achievement possible.”

I firmly believe that the best ideas come from the folks back – and that’s exactly what happened here. Whether long-term transportation planning or industry-specific problems, crafting long-term solutions requires the input of the American people, and I’m proud to be a part of that partnership.

The FAST Act includes over $6.8 billion in funding allocated to the state of Georgia through FY2020, which is $607 million above the funding levels set by 2012’s MAP 21 Act. The conference report is expected to pass in the Senate today or Friday, passed the Senate Thursday night by a vote of 83-16, and President Obama is expected to sign it.

In the Senate, Johnny Isakson voted for the measure, while David Perdue voted Nay. After the vote, Senator Perdue issued this statement:

Our highways need to be repaired and critical infrastructure projects need long-term certainty, but Washington cannot keep relying on budget gimmicks that leave us worse off down the road. Georgians expected the Senate to spend the past three months developing a serious long-term solution that responsibly fixes our highway-funding problem. Instead, in typical Washington fashion, we’ve been given a highway bill that relies on mythical savings and includes multiple unrelated items that merit separate debate. We must repair our highways but Congress cannot ignore our country’s staggering debt crisis, and this type of governing has become dangerously acceptable to politicians in Washington.

Senator Johnny Isakson noted that Georgia will receive close to $8 billion in federal funds due to the passage of the measure, and said in a statement,

I am so pleased that Congress has passed this key piece of legislation to move our country forward. After far too many short-term patches, this long-term, bipartisan legislation is a victory for commuters, businesses, and road builders because it finally provides much-needed certainty for state and local transportation projects. I have worked for many years to ensure that we don’t continue to ‘kick the can down the road’ in small funding bursts, but instead put into place sensible, long-term plans to give federal infrastructure projects stability without adding to our debt. This legislation will achieve just that.