Time Running Out for Administration to Submit Its Surface Transportation Reauthorization Bill
As time runs out for Congress to reauthorize federal surface transportation programs prior to their scheduled expiration on September 30 of this year, time is also running out for the Trump Administration to submit the text of its reauthorization plan.
The Administration’s fiscal 2021 budget request, submitted almost six months ago, contained the dollar amounts of a ten-year surface transportation reauthorization proposal. But as to all the legislative and policy details, the budget only said, over and over, “In the coming months the Administration will release the details of its reauthorization proposal.”
So far, no proposal. The Department of Transportation has prepared one, and sent it to the White House Office of Management and Budget months ago for the interagency “clearance” process. But that process has not yet produced a final product, which puts the Trump Administration at risk of joining the first Obama Administration in the exclusive club – the only Presidents who never put forward their own surface transportation proposals.
When Barack Obama took office in January 2009, the five-year SAFETEA-LU transportation authorization law was scheduled to expire on September 30, 2009. Much to the chagrin of House T&I chairman Jim Oberstar (D-MN), the White House did not want to pursue an immediate reauthorization, and instead asked for an 18-month extension, so that they could do surface transportation in the second half of their first term. (Congress responded with a series of short-term extensions that did indeed wind up going into the next second half of the first term.)
But in 2011 and 2012, OMB never cleared the reauthorization bill produced by DOT staff. Instead, DOT sent sections of it to Congress under the table, labeled “technical assistance” (meaning that it was not official Administration policy), and it was never introduced as a bill.
The possibility of this happening for a second time is growing. The table below shows the transmittal dates of every President’s formal surface transportation reauthorization proposal dating back to Dwight Eisenhower in 1955.
Information on Presidential Surface Transportation Reauthorization Proposals
|Before the first term of the Obama Administration, every previous President dating back to 1955 had formally submitted a proposed highway/surface authorization bill to Congress.|
|When a Cabinet Secretary or other Administration official sends a letter to Congress, it is recorded as an Executive Communication and given a sequential number for that Congress by the House and (separately) by the Senate. When the President himself sends a letter to Congress, it is printed as a House or Senate Document. The House numbering is used below except for two instances where only Senate communications can be found in the Record, and those are marked with an asterisk.|
|Administration Formally Transmits Its Highway Bill Text To Congress||Administration Bill Introduced in the House (By Request)|
|84th||Eisenhower||February 22, 1955||H. Doc. No. 93||February 22, 1955||H.R. 4260|
|85th||Eisenhower||March 11, 1958||EC No. 1702||March 18, 1958||H.R. 11466|
|86th||Eisenhower||March 3, 1960||EC No. 1908||No bill||No bill|
|87th||Kennedy||April 9, 1962||EC No. 1916||April 10, 1962||H.R. 11199|
|88th||Johnson||February 13, 1964||EC No. 1702||February 20, 1964||H.R. 10055|
|89th||Johnson||March 22, 1966||EC No. 2228||April 6, 1966||H.R. 14359|
|90th||Johnson||April 23, 1968||EC No. 1774||May 8, 1968||H.R. 17314|
|91st||Nixon||June 8, 1970||EC No. 2122||No bill introduced||No bill|
|92nd||Nixon||April 24, 1972||EC No. 1900||May 3, 1972||H.R. 14759|
|93rd||Nixon||February 22, 1973||EC No. 475||March 5, 1973||H.R. 5138|
|93rd||Nixon||February 13, 1974||EC No. 1882||February 19, 1974||H.R. 12859|
|94th||Ford||July 8, 1975||H. Doc. 94-204||July 8, 1975||H.R. 8430|
|95th||Carter||January 26, 1978||H. Doc. 95-284||January 26, 1978||H.R. 10578|
|97th||Reagan||March 18, 1981||EC No. 842||April 9, 1981||H.R. 3197|
|97th||Reagan||November 30, 1982||H. Doc. 97-259||November 30, 1982||H.R. 7330|
|99th||Reagan||February 5, 1986||EC No. 2686||February 5, 1986||H.R. 4144|
|102nd||G.H.W. Bush||February 26, 1991||EC No. 726||March 7, 1991||H.R. 1351|
|105th||Clinton||April 10, 1997||EC No. 2752||April 10, 1997||H.R. 1268|
|108th||G.W. Bush||May 19, 2003||EC2388*||May 14, 2003||H.R. 2088|
|111th-112th||Obama||No bill transmitted for SAFETEA-LU reauthorization cycle 2009-2012|
|113th||Obama||May 1, 2014||EC5568*||June 11, 2014||H.R. 4834|