July 2012—President Obama signs a two-year transportation reauthorization bill into law. The “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act,” known as MAP 21, keeps transportation programs running through the end of fiscal year 2014 and calls for transferring $18.8 billion from the general fund to the highway and transit trust funds.
August 10, 2014—The president signs into law a new rescue package (PL 103–159), which allows the Highway Trust Fund to remain solvent through May 2015.
July 2015 —The Senate passes a six-year highway bill, but only provides “paid-for” funding for three years, which gives the House hesitancy to take up the Senate’s bill. Congress then heads into summer recess without any further action.
July 31, 2015—President Obama signs into law the 35th short-term extension of the surface transportation programs that keeps programs running through Oct. 29, 2015, a measure designed to give the U.S. House and Senate time to bring legislation to a joint conference committee in the fall.
October 2015—The House and Senate again pass a short-term extension of the highway bill, this one running through Nov. 20, 2015.
November 5, 2015—Similar to the Senate, the House passes a six-year highway bill, but only provides “paid-for” funding for three years. However, in the House bill, Congressman Chuck Fleishmann (R-Tenn.) introduces and speaks in favor of the Geosynthetic Amendment. After Rep Fleischmann speaks, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), the ranking member of the House
Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, also endorses this amendment. Geosynthetics and their use in bridge and road building applications—the Geosynthetic Amendment—was then voted on and agreed to by a voice vote. The amendment is included in the House highway bill that is ultimately passed 363–64.
Geosynthetic Amendment Language
To the extent practicable, the Secretary [of Transportation] shall encourage the use of durable, resilient, and sustainable materials and practices, including the use of geosynthetic materials and other innovative technologies, in carrying out the activities of the Federal Highway Administration.
November 10, 2015—The House and Senate appoint conferees and begin work on merging the bills from both chambers.
November 16, 2015—With the current highway bill expiring in a few days (Nov. 20), both the House and pass another short extension of the bill to Dec. 4. The prospect is that his will give the House and Senate conferees additional time to iron out the details of the final bill. This will then set up the final stretch of the conference committee and bill-making process before the final bill is sent to President Obama for his signature and it is signed into law.
This time line was prepared by Rudy Barry, managing director at Whitmer & Worrall, the Washington, D.C., firm hired in 2006 by the Geosynthetic Materials Association to spearhead its government relations program.