On Friday afternoon, the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate approved the final conference report on the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), legislation to reform and reauthorize surface transportation programs through 2014. MAP-21 finally replaces the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) bill, which was enacted in 2005 and extended nine times since its expiration in 2009. President Obama is expected to sign MAP-21 into law, and could do so as early as this evening.
Prominent conservative groups urged Republicans to vote against the final agreement, while the U.S. Chamber of Commerce pushed strongly for its passage. The final vote in the House was 373-52, with all Democrats voting in favor. The Senate vote was 74-19 with one Senator voting present. The massive conference report is likely to be the last major piece of legislation passed by Congress until after the November elections.
While members were not happy with every provision in the bill, they largely praised it during floor debate this afternoon. The report does not include language requiring approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, which many House Republicans had pushed for. They dropped the demand after winning a concession from Democrats to streamline permitting of transportation projects. Many Democrats praised the extension of the highway provisions for more than two years, which they said would boost job creation.