Congress agrees to six-month transportation bill

| 9/16/2011

The U.S. Senate approved a temporary extension for surface transportation and federal aviation programs on Thursday, Sept. 15. Senators voted 92-6 on a “clean” bill, which allows surface transportation programs to be funded and operating at present levels through March 31, 2012.

The House previously passed the bill, HR2887. It now moves on to President Obama’s desk for signature and he is expected to sign it.

Effectively, the bill extends programs and funding at status quo levels. It also extends the government’s authority to collect fuel taxes, the excise tax on heavy equipment, tire taxes and the heavy vehicle use tax that make up the Highway Trust Fund.

The vote Thursday marked the eighth temporary extensions for surface transportation programs since the bill known as SAFETEA-LU expired in September 2009.

House and Senate committees are now back to work on a longer-term replacement bill but continue to be hung up on new ways to fund it. Lawmakers have through the end of March to get a longer-term bill in place or be forced to act on another temporary extension.

The extension that passed Thursday spared the Federal Aviation Administration from a program shutdown. Congress has extended the FAA bill 22 times in recent years without passing a replacement.