House Passes Transportation Bill, Including Amendments that Helps Texans
The House overwhelmingly passed the six-year highway transportation bill Thursday. This is the first time since 2005 that the House has passed a highway bill longer than two years, which shows the renewed cooperation under new House Leadership. More than 100 amendments were voted on, including two amendments I sponsored or co-sponsored.
Included in the bill was my language that would designate State Highway 44 as a future segment of Interstate 69. This allows both the city of Corpus Christi and Corpus Christi International Airport to be more included in the I-69 interstate highway system.
I also had an amendment included (by voice vote) on the House floor that would allow trucks with current weight exemptions to be allowed to continue operating at those weight exemptions after certain segments of Federal Highways in Texas are re-designated as Interstate 69. This language would NOT increase truck weights or allow for weight exemptions for new trucks. Some trucks in Texas are currently given highway weight exemptions to operate heavier than 80,000 pounds on highways for short distances to and from road projects, timber factories, etc. As of today, there are only 159 miles in Texas designated as I-69 that this amendment would address.
I also co-authored an amendment with Representatives Randy Neugebauer (TX) and Cheri Bustos (IL) which would exempt from the requirement for farm equipment to obtain a hazmat endorsement a Class A commercial driver's license holder who is a custom harvester, agricultural retailer, agricultural business employee, agricultural cooperative employee, or agricultural producers who operate a service vehicle with a fuel tank containing 1,000 gallons or less of diesel fuel if the tank is clearly marked with a placard reading "Diesel Fuel." Current federal law makes it very difficult for farmers and custom harvesters to transport the amount of fuel necessary for a single day of field operations with today’s agricultural equipment.
The diesel amendment is a big win for the agriculture, farming, and other industries across the nation. The next step is to reconcile the bill the House passed with the slightly different bill that the Senate passed. As the senior Texan on the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, I was selected as one of a handful of Congressman to serve on the team that will negotiate those changes with the Senate. I look forward to being part of the effort to make sure Texas and the rest of America gets the best transportation deal possible.