Congress Approves Five Year Transportation Package, G-Fees Removed
On Dec. 3rd, the House approved HR. 22, Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) by a vote of 359-65. The Senate quickly followed with an approval vote of 83-16. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law prior to the December 4th deadline.
Passage of a five year surface transportation program is a victory in many ways. In July 2015, the Senate proposed funding a portion of transportation with guarantee fees (g-fees) collected by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. NAR began an effective campaign to remove g-fees as a pay-for in surface transportation projects. After weeks of negotiations between the House and Senate, the final legislation completely removed g-fees. Ultimately, Congress altered the Federal Reserve’s surplus account and dividends owed to large banks to pay for the bulk of transportation funding until 2020.
Additional victories stem from safety measures and livability programs. States receiving federal funding will now be encouraged to adopt Complete Streets standards. NAR has been a part of a coalition since 2008 working to establish a federal Complete Streets standard. And the primary funding program for Safe Routes to School, and bicycling/walking facilities was retained within the final package.
NAR’s transportation advocacy efforts have focused on a long-term sustainable program. Although five years of consistency of federal transportation programs is a major success, funding after 2020 will need to be ironed out once more.