Debt Ceiling Bill Signed

Before they left town last week on a recess lasting through Labor Day, lawmakers moved forward on a pair of important measures.

Senators passed a $2.7 trillion bill to rescind the federal debt ceiling until 2021, which will allow the U.S. government to borrow as much as it needs to until then in order to pay its bills. The vote was 67-28.

The measure will also lift budget caps that had been in place and will allow lawmakers to spend as much as $1.37 trillion in each of the next two fiscal years. The same bill had passed the House of Representatives a week before. President Donald Trump supported the bill ahead of the vote and signed it last Friday. By lifting the debt ceiling, lawmakers avoided the possibility that the government could be forced to default this fall.

Elsewhere, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works unanimously passed a bipartisan transportation reauthorization. The support of increased funding and investment in infrastructure and transportation systems in the U.S. is one of NAIOP’s 2019 legislative priorities. Republican chairman John Barrasso (R-WY) called it “the most substantial highway infrastructure legislation in history” and said that 90% of the spending would be for roads and bridges.

The $287 billion, five-year reauthorization bill proposal now goes to the Senate Finance Committee, which must decide how to pay for it. So far, the committee has not considered raising the gas tax.

In the House, the Democratic Chairman of the Transportation tells Politico the bill “demonstrates bipartisan consensus on the need for resilient infrastructure, alternative fuel corridors, and serious efforts to reduce congestion.” But Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) warned, “there is still a big question about how we pay for these investments.”