FAST Act Update

Wednesday, December 2, 2015 – 1:14 p.m.

Congress still appears on track for final action on the long-awaited surface transportation reauthorization bill (H.R. 22, the FAST Act) by early next week if not sooner.

The House Rules Committee will hold a hearing at 3 p.m. today on the conference agreement and it will be the first item of business on the House floor tomorrow. After the House passes the conference report at mid-day tomorrow, the House is then expected to pass one final short-term extension of Highway Trust Fund spending authority and taxes through December 9. This will give time for the Senate to complete action on the bill, for the Clerk of the House and GPO to properly enroll it on parchment, and then transmit it to the White House for a possible bill signing ceremony next Tuesday or Wednesday.

The timing of Senate action is still unclear. Once the House walks the paperwork on H.R. 22 over to the Senate tomorrow afternoon, Senate Majority Leader McConnell will try to get all 100 Senators to agree to expedited procedures for considering the conference report via unanimous consent. If all 100 Senators agree to speed things up (and McConnell will have the leverage of giving everyone Friday off from work if they agree), there could be a vote on a budget point of order, a cloture vote, and a final passage vote in the Senate in quick order on Thursday night.

But if even one of the 100 Senators objects, then McConnell would file cloture on Thursday night and then a cloture vote would be held on Saturday or Monday, and then the final passage vote would be Monday or Tuesday. But even if 39 Senators mount a diehard filibuster of the FAST Act (which they won’t), there is no way under Senate rules for them to delay the final vote past Tuesday, ensuring that the legislation can become law next week.

The Eno team has completed version 1.0 of our section-by-section summary of the FAST Act – it is still incomplete, but even so, it is 44 pages and 18,000 words. We will update it as quickly as we can complete the missing sections. The summary can be downloaded here.

In terms of summary tables, we now have:

  • Authorization table for the whole conference report here.
  • Annual growth rates for highways, mass transit and safety here.
  • Annual state highway formula funding totals by FY here.
  • 5-year cumulative state highway formula funding totals by program here.
  • Annual state mass transit formula funding totals by FY here.

Also, the Congressional Budget Office has just released its score of the FAST Act conference report and we have it here. We have summarized the 10-year totals of the “pay-fors” and the spending and bailout amounts in the CBO score here.


The HTF table on the last page of the CBO cost estimate shows that while $70 billion in general fund bailouts of the Highway Trust Fund were sufficient to pay for spending increases in the FAST Act for five years, the bailout cost of a subsequent five-year bill (for FY 2021-2025) at the FY 2020 levels plus annual inflation would exceed $100 billion.

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