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December 7, 2015

Congress Passes Long-Awaited, 5-Year Transportation Bill

Last Thursday afternoon, on an overwhelmingly bipartisan 359 to 65 vote, the U.S. House passed a long-term transportation reauthorization bill that will increase funding for federal highway and transit programs. The U.S. Senate followed the House action with its own vote a few hours later. The bill passed the upper chamber on a bipartisan 83 to 16 vote and now awaits President Barack Obama’s signature. 

The legislation, called the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, will not only provide $305 billion over the next five years to fund critical transportation infrastructure programs, it also:

  • Reauthorizes the Export Import Bank’s charter through Sept. 20, 2019 while reducing the bank’s lending authority from $140 billion to $135 billion;
  • Streamlines the permitting process for major infrastructure, energy, aviation, broadband and manufacturing projects in order to bring greater efficiency, transparency and accountability to the federal permitting review process; and
  • Reauthorizes funding for Amtrak.

Full summaries of the FAST Act can be found here and here. The bill increases federal highway spending by 18 percent and federal transit spending by 15 percent. MSCI strongly supported this measure.