U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) was recently named to the conference committee tasked with resolving the differences between the House and Senate transportation reauthorization bills and today participated in the committee’s first public meeting. In July, the Senate passed its version of the transportation bill, the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act, which contained several items that are important to South Dakota, including provisions to reduce the amount of time it takes to complete transportation projects and increase motor vehicle safety. As one of the 13 senators on the conference committee, Thune’s selection ensures that South Dakota’s interests will be represented at the negotiating table.
“We all recognize how vital transportation is to South Dakota’s economy and the importance of getting a long-term bill in place that provides certainty to our state, especially to those who are building our roads and bridges,” said Thune. “One of the most significant advantages we have in our economy is a competitive transportation network that connects our communities with others across the state and nation and helps give us access to markets all over the world. I look forward to working with my colleagues on the conference committee to make sure we meet the December 4 deadline and send a final bill to the president so it can be signed into law.”
The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, of which Thune serves as chairman, was responsible for several major titles of the DRIVE Act, including key transportation and regulatory reforms. A summary of the Commerce titles can be found here.
Earlier this week, the House of Representatives passed a short-term extension of the Highway Trust Fund through December 4, 2015, which the Senate is expected to pass this week, to allow conferees enough time to complete their work on a long-term bill.