H.R. 662: Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2011

H.R. 662

Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2011

Sponsor
Rep. John Mica

Date
March 2, 2011 (112th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Wednesday, March 2, 2011, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 662, the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2011, under a rule.  The rule provides for one hour of debate and makes in order one technical amendment offered by Rep. John Mica (R-Fl).  H.R. 662 was introduced by Rep. Mica on February 11, 2011, and was referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.  On February 16, 2011, the committee marked-up the bill and reported it by voice vote.

Bill Summary

H.R. 662 would extend the authority to appropriate funds from the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) for federal highway and surface transportation programs through September 30, 2011 (the remainder of FY 2011).  Current authority to appropriate funds from the HTF under the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: a Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) was most recently extended in December by H.R. 3082, the Continuing Appropriations and Surface Transportation Extensions Act (P.L. 111-322), and is set to expire on March 4, 2011.

H.R. 662 would set the total obligation limitation levels for transportation funding at $52.7 billion for FY 2011.  The obligation authority consists of $42.46 billion for highway funding and $10.33 billion for mass transit funding.  The level of obligation authority is the same as FY 2010.  According to CBO, enacting the bill would result in contract authority totaling $580 billion over the FY 2011 – FY 2021 period.  The funding level authorized by the bill is identical to CBO’s current baseline projection, thus enacting H.R. 662 would not provide budget authority above amounts assumed under current law.

Title I—Federal-Aid Highway Programs

H.R. 622 sets the obligation limit for highway program spending from the HTF in FY 2011 at $42.46 billion.  In addition, the bill would exempt $639 million from the obligation limitation for the equity bonus program, which is meant to give states a minimum return on their contributions to the HTF.  H.R. 662 would also authorize the appropriation of $422 million from the HTF for the administrative cost of the federal highway program.

Title II—Extension of Highway Safety Programs

H.R. 662 would provide $742 million in spending authority for highway safety programs carried out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for the duration of FY 2011, including:

  • $235 million for Chapter 4 Highway Safety Programs;
  • $108 million for Highway Safety Research and Development;
  • $25 million for Occupant Protection Incentive Grants;
  • $124 for Safety Belt Performance Grants;
  • $34 million for State Traffic Safety Information System Improvements;
  • $139 million for the Alcohol-Impaired Driving Counter-Measures Incentive Grant Program;
  • $4 million for the National Driver Register;
  • $29 million for the High Visibility Enforcement Program;
  • $7 million for Motorcycle Safety;
  • $7 million for Child Safety and Booster Seat Safety Incentive Grants; and
  • $25 million for Administrative Expenses.

H.R. 662 would also authorize $597 million for programs carried out by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, including:

  • $209 million for Motor Carrier Safety Grants;
  • $244 million for Administrative Expenses;
  • $6 million for High-Priority Activities;
  • $12 million for New Entrant Audits; and
  • $8 million for Commercial Driver’s License Information Systems Modernization.

Title III—Public Transportation Programs

H.R. 622 sets the obligation limit for mass transit program spending authority from the HTF in FY 2011 at $10.33 billion.  The bill would authorize $8.3 billion for Formula and Bus Grants and $2 billion for Capital Investment Grants.

Background

The HTF was established in 1956 for the purpose of funding the construction of an interstate highway system.  The account is administered by the Federal Highway Administration, within the Department of Transportation, and distributes gasoline tax revenues annually to states for highway projects.  The vast majority of total receipts for the HTF come from the federal highway users excise tax (the remainder comes from truck-related taxes such as truck and trailer sales, truck tires and heavy-vehicle use taxes).  Currently the 18.4-cent federal gasoline tax is distributed with one-tenth of one cent going to the Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund and the rest to the Highway Trust Fund's two accounts: 2.85 cents per gallon to fund the mass transit account and 15.44 cents per gallon to fund the highway account.

The current highway program, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act—A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), expired at the end of FY 2009 and has since been authorized by a series of short-term extensions.  The most recent extension, passed in December of 2010, is set to expire on March 4, 2011.

In recent years, revenues to the HTF have not kept pace with the outlays, dropping off sharply in 2008 when fuel hit record-high prices and consumption dropped.  According to CRS, in 2008, $8 billion was transferred from the general fund to the HTF to fill a funding shortfall.  In FY 2009 and FY 2010, the HTF received transfers of $7 billion and $20 billion, respectively, to keep the trust fund solvent.  According to CBO’s January 2011 baseline, HTF receipts are estimated to drop by one percent in FY 2011 and total $29 billion.  According to CBO, this would be the sixth consecutive year that HTF receipts have fallen.  As a result, CBO estimates that the HTF will run a deficit of $7 billion in FY 2011, which is then predicted to double to $14 billion in FY 2012.

Cost

According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), enacting the bill would result in contract authority totaling $580 billion over the FY 2011 – FY 2021 period.  The funding level authorized by the bill is identical to CBO’s current baseline projection, thus enacting H.R. 662 would not provide budget authority above amounts assumed under current law.