Senate Committee Approves Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act


May 26, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee unanimously approved (20-0) the bipartisan Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021 (STRA-21). The bill calls for $303.5 billion over 5 years to Dept. of Transportation (DOT) programs for highways, roads, and bridges and is a 34% funding increase over the current law, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which expires on September 30, 2021. STRA-21 includes a streamlining provision to require DOT average no more than two years to complete an environmental review, which is an APWA priority. Additionally, the draft legislation includes a climate title with $6.4 billion in proposed infrastructure grants to encourage states to reduce transportation emissions and calls for $2.5 billion for electric vehicle charging and alternative fuel infrastructure grants. Provisions related to safety, which is an APWA policy priority area for surface transportation reauthorization, are included through the proposed reauthorization of numerous road and safety programs. The Senate EPW Committee is one of four committees in the Senate with jurisdiction over some portion of the next surface transportation law. In addition to EPW, the Senate Finance Committee is responsible for determining how to pay for the bill, the Senate Banking Committee has jurisdiction over transit programs, and the Senate Commerce Committee has jurisdiction over highway safety programs, rail, and multiple Department of Transportation agencies.

STRA-21 is separate from negotiations ongoing primarily between Congressional leadership, Senate Republicans, and President Biden related to his proposed 'American Jobs Plan' introduced on March 31. Reportedly there is still some significant disagreement over the cost and scope of ‘infrastructure’ to include in a broad infrastructure package.

In the House, the Chair for the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (lead authorizing committee in the House) Peter DeFazio (D-OR) originally was targeting Memorial Day for the Committee to mark-up an infrastructure package, but timing has now changed to the second half of June. The House Ways and Means Committee has responsibility for identifying how to pay for infrastructure.

Please contact APWA’s Director of Government and Public Affairs Andrea Eales at aeales@apwa.net with any questions about APWA’s Government Affairs activities and priorities.