Capitol Alert

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The word "California" appears nowhere in the 596-page transportation package slated for congressional approval Friday. Nonetheless, the bill that's ridden a Capitol Hill roller-coaster for many months has a definite Golden State tinge.

The bill, for instance, includes a National Flood Insurance Program phase-in pushed by lawmakers including Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento. To prevent sticker shock among homeowners caught up in newly mapped flood zones, the provision phases in higher insurance rates over five years. Matsui called the result "real savings."

Politically, the 27-month, $120 billion surface transportation reauthorization bill is an achievement for Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, the chair of the Senate Public Works Committee. Formally, it's called the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, or MAP-21.

The bill does not include funding for high-speed rail, but neither does it include language championed by Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, in the original House effort that would have specifically blocked federal dollars from going toward California's high-speed rail project. Denham is trying to put similar language on other transportation-related bills.

Both House and Senate are slated to approve the legislation Friday before lawmakers depart for the Fourth of July recess.



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