SENATE PANEL PASSES $305 BILLION HIGHWAY BILL

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee unanimously passed a bipartisan, five-year $305 billion highway reauthorization bill, “Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021.”

NACS CEO and President Henry Armour applauded the Senate committee’s effort. “Bipartisan agreement on how to address our infrastructure needs is welcome,” Armour said. “We look forward to continued work with the Senate to ensure that the legislation takes full advantage of the opportunity to leverage private sector investment and bring the benefits of competitive markets to all vehicle drivers. It is essential that any infrastructure bill avoids the negative repercussions that could come if funding mechanisms were used to undermine the competitive market.”

In addition to funding highway and infrastructure programs, the bill includes an alternative fuels corridor grant program, which NACS, along with NATSO and SIGMA, closely worked with committee staff to ensure those receiving grants under this program contract with a private entity rather than allowing the government to own and operate alternative fuels infrastructure, such as electric vehicle charging.

Other key issues for the convenience and fuel retailing industry are that the bill retains the prohibitions on rest area commercialization and tolling on existing interstates. It also does not include an exception to the ban on rest area commercialization for electric vehicle charging.

Several other Senate committees need to mark up and pass their part of the larger infrastructure package before coming to the Senate floor for a vote. On the House side, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will mark up its version of a highway bill in June.