Congress Approves Two-Year Highway Bill and Limited Auto Safety Measures

After months of negotiations and short-term extensions, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have agreed on a sweeping $120 billion package to fund highway construction and other transportation projects for the next two years. The spending is financed by the current $.184 per gallon gas tax and the $.244 per gallon diesel tax, along with $19 billion in general Treasury funds. 

The new law funds state programs to reduce distracted and impaired driving and increase seat belt use. It also increases the civil penalties for defective or noncompliant vehicles and equipment, although lawmakers dropped some of the more onerous provisions opposed by SEMA and the automakers, such as mandatory installation of event data recorders. The approved version also includes $85 million in funding for the SEMA-supported Recreational Trails Program (RTP), which provides funds to states to develop and maintain recreational trails and trail-related facilities for both motorized and non-motorized recreational trail uses. 

SEMA joined with several off-road enthusiast organizations to maintain RTP funding in the final highway bill. 

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