Unfortunately, the gains for active transportation and safety for people biking and walking that we won in the Senate America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act of 2019 and the House INVEST Act are at risk. The Senate has not moved its bill the rest of the way through the Senate, and it still lacks the transit, safety and funding titles. The House bill was passed by the full House of Representatives, but is included in a much larger infrastructure package that Republicans objected to. And, that’s not even considering the effort needed to reconcile the two bills to come up with a final package that the President would sign.
The current transportation law (the FAST Act) expires on September 30, 2020. Given the number of legislative steps remaining for a new transportation bill to become law, an extension of current law is a near certainty. The big question that remains is for how long – just a few months to see if there’s a chance to come back to a transportation bill this fall post-elections? Or will it be a year-long extension, effectively punting this to the next Congress where we will have to start from scratch with new House and Senate bills?
Another factor also in the mix is the continued stand-off between the White House, Senate, and House over another COVID-19 relief bill. If a resolution can be reached, it could include additional relief funding for transit agencies or an extension of the transportation bill. However, it is unlikely it would include a full transportation bill.
While it is fairly common for Congress to do transportation extensions, it is particularly disheartening given that Congress got a good start well ahead of the deadline, and given that the bills included significant increases and improvements for active transportation and safety. If we do need to start over in the next Congress, we are hopeful that the gains we won this year can be built upon.