Your July 22 Pre-Trip: Senate continues work on six-year transportation bill

Here are five things worth knowing today:

1. The Senate is working to pass a bipartisan six-year transportation bill that would increase the money the federal government distributes to state transportation officials by about $2 billion, according to The Washington Post. According to the report, Sen. Majority Leader Mitch MCConnell (R-KY) said: “Senators from both parties know that a long-term highway bill is in the best interest of our country, so we’ll continue working together to get a good one passed.” Sen. Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said he had yet to see the bill, according to The Post. “I want a highway bill, but I can’t go forward on a bill until we’ve read it,” he said, according to The Post. Highway and transit funding is set to expire on July 21. Last week, the House voted to extend federal funding at current levels through Dec. 18, which it says will allow time to overhaul the corporate tax structure to pay for a long-term plan.

2. “The gas tax, our main source of highway money since the 1950s, is probably doomed,” according to Politico. As Congress tries to come up with a long-term solution to federal transportation funding, which is set to expire July 31, transportation experts believe it’s time to find a “smart, new source of money to pay for it,” the report said. Politico has more.

3. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey has introduced a bill to have truckers paid by the hour, not by the mile, to improve safety, News 12 New Jersey reports. The idea to change the federal law comes after a tractor-trailer accident on the New Jersey Turnpike last year critically injured comedian Tracy Morgan and killed comedian Jimmy Mack, according to News 12. The truck driver admitted to being awake for 24 hours when he struck the limo, News 12 said.

4. Truckers became emotional during a Senate Insurance and Labor Committee meeting in Savannah, GA. According to an Online Athens report, truck drivers said it takes a toll on them when companies misclassify them as independent contractors rather than employees. According to the report, a National Employment Labor Project study estimates that about one in three workers is improperly classified and compensated. In Georgia, 82% of truckers hauling freight from the ports are misclassified, according to the report. Carol Cauley, a truck driver representing the group Stand Up for Savannah, said: “If we take one day off, it takes us 90 days to get caught back up. God help us if we take off a week because we’re sick,” according to Online Athens.

5. One lane of traffic will re-open on Friday on I-10 where the Tex Wash Bridge in California collapsed during a weekend storm, according to KTLA. Crews plan to strengthen the westbound side of the bridge, but the eastbound side will take longer to repair, the report said. The interstate has been shut down since Sunday after a flash flood washed through. KTLA has more.

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