A quartet of senators from the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee today introduced a six-year, $278 billion bill to reauthorize funding for the nation's surface transportation programs.
The legislation, known as the "Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy" Act, or "DRIVE," includes a minimum annual investment of $2 billion in funding for freight infrastructure, capping out at $13.5 billion at the end of the six-year period. It also calls for a freight-focused competitive grant program and state-level freight planning with public- and private-sector involvement.
The bill was introduced by Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the committee; Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), the committee's ranking member; David Vitter (R-La.), senior chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee, and Tom Carper (D-Del.), the committee's senior member. The bill is scheduled to be marked up tomorrow by the committee.
In a statement, Inhofe said the bill contains the "hallmark accomplishment of a new freight program to prioritize federal spending on the facilities that will most directly benefit our economy."
The current reauthorization law, which took effect in July 2012, has been extended twice since its original expiration date of September 2014. The current extension is set to expire on July 31. Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has said it is almost certain for another extension to be approved that will take the current bill through the end of the year, or close to it.