Update October 30, 2015: This bill was co-opted through the amendment process from its original form to serve as the legislative vehicle for highway funding.
Originally, this bill was known as the Hire More Heroes Act, and would have given employers the option of whether or not veterans with other health insurance (TRICARE, DoD, or VA) would be counted in employee totals for the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Under the ACA, "large employers" (50 or more employees) are required to provide health insurance to all employees. Small businesses, however, are not. This bill then served as the legislative vehicle for a group of tax-extension bills commonly known as the EXPIRE Act.
Currently, this legislation is the legislative vehicle for the Senate’s DRIVE Act, which authorizes federal funding for highways and highway safety construction programs for fiscal years 2016-2021.
For transportation infrastructure projects, bridges and large facilities of national importance would be prioritized, as would the Interstate System and National Highway System. Competitive grants would be made available for the funding of regionally important projects.
There are no tax increases in this legislation, and all spending is fully offset with spending reductions or changes in other federal programs. The amount of funding authorized for each state to receive in each fiscal year for highway projects would increase.
Public transportation funding would be made available at a greater level for local and urban projects involving bus facilities, fixed rail systems, while overall funding would be increased by more than $2 billion over previous levels.
The Federal Permitting Improvement Act would be included in this legislation, which enhances coordination between government agencies during the permitting process for projects requiring federal review. It is limited to economically significant capital projects that need investment of more than $200 million. Further, this provision also places time limits on environmental and judicial reviews on covered projects.