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The National Association of State Highway and Transportation Unions (NASHTU) is dedicated to ensuring that federal transportation dollars are spent on cost-effective, safe projects that serve the public interest. NASHTU is comprised of 38 unions and associations representing hundreds of thousands of state and locally employed transportation engineers, construction managers and inspectors, technical workers and related public servants from throughout the United States.

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September 13, 2021

FAST Act Expiration Looms

In just under three weeks, on September 30, the FAST Act – the current surface transportation authorization – will expire.  Without a new authorization, all surface transportation programs will temporarily shut down.  To prevent a shutdown, both the House and the Senate have passed new, five year authorizations.  Unfortunately, to date, the two legislative bodies have failed to agree on one bill reauthorizing surface transportation programs.

In July, the House passed the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation (INVEST) in America Act.  The INVEST Act coupled a $547 billion, five-year surface transportation authorization with a $168 billion drinking water and wastewater infrastructure program.  According to an AASHTO analysis, the INVEST Act would provide $430 billion from the Highway Trust Fund from FY 2022 through FY 2026.  Compared to the FAST Act, the House version of the authorization would provide funding increases of 514% for passenger rail, 59% for transit, and 29% for highways.

In August, the Senate passed the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.  Their infrastructure package also included a five-year, $383.4 billion surface transportation authorization.  The authorization represents a 35% increase over the FAST Act and is paid for by a $118 billion General Fund transfer into the Highway Trust Fund.

At this point, the Senate version of the authorization seems to be the most likely to be enacted prior to the September 30 deadline.  It enjoyed bipartisan support in the Senate, passing with all Democratic Senators and 19 Republican Senators voting for the bill.  Conversely, the House INVEST in America Act would struggle to garner the 60 votes in the Senate needed for passage.

Congressional insiders think it is unlikely that the surface transportation authorization will be allowed to lapse.  However, a recent report from the Congressional Research Service explains the impact to surface transportation programs if Congress fails to enact a new authorization prior to the September 30 deadline.

According to the CRS report, if the FAST Act expires, the Federal Highway Administration would immediately halt payments from the Highway Trust Fund to states and other grantees.  There would also be no authority to obligate new funds or reimburse grantees for previously obligated projects under the Federal Aid Highway Program.  Some states may be able to continue federal aid highway projects already under construction with the expectation of eventual repayment, but without repayments from FHWA, states may begin to experience cash flow problems that could prevent them from paying contractors.

Read the full CRS Report here

2020 NASHTU Conference – Canceled

In response to the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency, the 21st Annual NASHTU Conference – scheduled for April 20-22, 2020 in Washington D.C. – has been canceled.

Given the uncertainty about the length of the crisis, and given the limited congressional calendar in an election year, it is simply not possible at this time to reschedule the conference for this year.

We will be refunding any registration fees paid to date.  Please contact the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill at 202/737-1234 to cancel your room reservations.

We look forward to seeing you at the NASHTU conference in the spring of 2021.  If you have any questions, please contact NASHTU at nashtu@nashtu.us.