Wicker: Senate Passes Long-Term Highway Bill
Chamber Also Approves 3-Month Extension While Measure Awaits House Action
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today voted in favor of a six-year highway authorization bill. The legislation, H.R. 22, which is fully funded for the first three years, would provide a long-term strategic plan for transportation and infrastructure projects, including investments in Mississippi. The Senate passed the measure by a vote of 65-34.
The Highway Trust Fund is set to run out of money on July 31. A three-month funding extension was approved by Congress today to ensure the fund will continue to operate, allowing the House of Representatives time to take action on the long-term highway plan.
“For years, Washington has failed to provide certainty to states and communities with regard to a long-term infrastructure plan,” Wicker said. “That inaction has taken its toll on the nation’s highways. In Mississippi, for example, nearly a quarter of our roads are in ‘poor condition.’ The bill that passed the Senate today is not perfect, but it would help clear the backlog of many stalled bridge and highway projects necessary for economic growth and commerce.”
Wicker added, “Moving forward, I will continue to fight against a harmful federal mandate requiring all states, including Mississippi, to allow twin 33-foot tractor-trailers within their jurisdictions regardless of state laws. I believe states are in the best position to make safety decisions about truck size.”
Wicker was successful in adding several provisions to the Highway Bill, including his passenger rail legislation, which was introduced last month with Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.
The bill also includes Wicker’s proposal to reauthorize the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), which would approve $100 million annually over the next five years, including $10 million a year to improve rural broadband services. ARC is a regional economic development agency that funds projects to increase job opportunities, strengthen the capacity of the people of Appalachia, develop and improve Appalachia’s infrastructure, and build the Appalachian Development Highway System. Mississippi has 24 counties within ARC’s province.
An amendment authored by Wicker in the bill would allow local governments and metropolitan planning organizations to receive grants under the Technology and Innovation Deployment Program.
Finally, an additional Wicker provision would require the National Automotive Sampling System to collect car crash data when a child restraint system was in use during the crash. It would allow the American Academy of Pediatrics and local law enforcement to collect this data to help determine if any injuries or fatalities occur when the children are in a 5-point harness recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.