Your July 29 Pre-Trip: Congress expected to approve highway extension

Here are five things worth knowing today:

1. It looks like Congress will back a three-month highway spending bill before Friday’s deadline. According to The Hill, the House will vote on the three-month extension today, and Senate leaders have hinted that they will approve the measure before the end of the week. The House and Senate have been divided over the federal transportation, but on Tuesday, “Republicans from both chambers sought to get on the same page, arguing that they all backed a long-term highway bill,” The Hill reports. Republicans agreed that passing a three-month extension would buy time to reach a longer-term deal. The Hill has more.

2. Though House Republicans are ready to approve a three-month highway bill extension by the end of the week, Democrat Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said Democrats aren’t ready to support the move. According to The Hill, Hoyer said the House already passed a five-month extension “and wondered how an even shorter fix would do anything but make it tougher to negotiate a more comprehensive package when Congress returns from the August recess.”

3. It’ll take until the end of September and about $5 million to fully reopen the Tex Wash Bridge on I-10 in California, according to the Sun Herald. California transportation officials announced their plans on Tuesday, according to the report. Right now, the bridge is partially reopened and traffic is squeezing by on one lane in each direction, the Sun Herald said.

4. The American Trucking Assns. is asking carriers to respond to a survey to gauge how much transportation companies are spending annually on safety programs and practices, according to Arkansas Online. The survey covers drug testing, driver medical programs, motor vehicle record checks, on-board safety technology, maintenance, hazardous materials, training and crash records, the report said. It also asks for positive results from the urine and hair tests in 2014, what percentage of a company’s fleet had speed limiters, and the number of safety and compliance personnel on staff, Arkansas Online said.

5. A Long Beach councilwoman said during a public meeting that “port truckers are working in conditions of ‘modern day indentured servitude,’” The Press-Telegram reports. According to the report, Suja Lowenthal made her statement during a Tidelands and Harbor Committee study session on Tuesday night. There has been an ongoing problem over whether the more than 14,000 truck drivers who transport goods between the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach should be considered employees or independent contractors. Labor groups are advocating that the drivers be classified as employees, and in many cases, truckers have gone on strike.

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