By Keith Laing - 05/24/12 08:01 PM EDT
“Substantial investment in the nation’s freight transportation system must be given a high priority,” the coalition's statement said. “Without the ability to quickly and cost-effectively move goods into, out of and through the United States, America will not be able to maintain our high standard of living and high employment levels.”
The transportation conference committee is trying to meld the Senate's two-year, $109 billion version of the highway bill, which includes the NRF's desired freight language, with a pair of temporary extensions of current funding that were approved by the House.
The members of the freight coalition sent a letter to the conference committee urging them to take up the frieght issue. The letter was signed by the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA); American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA); American Moving & Storage Association; American Trucking Associations; Association of American Railroads; America’s Gateways & Trade Corridors; Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals; Fashion Accessories Shippers Association (FASA); Intermodal Association of North America; National Association of Regional Councils; National Association of Waterfront Employers; National Industrial Transportation League; National Retail Federation; Retail Industry Leaders Association; Travel Goods Association (TGA); U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Waterfront Coalition and the World Shipping Council.
The chairwoman of the conference committee, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), said this week that a substantial portion of the issues that need to be resolved in the negotiations have been taken care of already, though she did not mention any specific provisions.
"Approximately 80 percent of the [Environment and Public Works] title ... is noncontroversial," Boxer said during a news conference at the Capitol. "The EPW title makes up about 80 percent of the entire bill, so this is a very substantial report I'm giving you."
Boxer said she was confident lawmakers would be able to finalize an agreement on the transportation bill before the scheduled expiration of funding for road and transit projects next month.
"The conferees are fully engaged," she said. "We will have our conference report ready to circulate among the various colleagues by early June, and we intend to have this bill on the desk of the president before June 30."
-This post was updated with new information at 4:56 p.m.