By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor
Surface transportation programs have survived another hurdle. President Obama signed an extension bill into law on Friday, Sept. 16. It extends Highway Trust Fund programs and funding through March 31, 2012.
Temporary extensions are nothing new. This is the eighth such extension since the transportation law known as SAFETEA-LU expired in September 2009. Congress continues to work on a longer-term authorization bill that includes reforms.
The extension signed by Obama on Friday included a provision to extend Federal Aviation Administration programs through Jan. 31, 2012. This was the 22nd time that FAA programs have been extended on a temporary basis.
If Congress does not approve a longer-term replacement for SAFETEA-LU by the end of March, lawmakers will be forced to consider another temporary extension.
U.S. House Rep. John Mica, R-FL, chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, doesn’t want any more temporary extensions after this one.
Mica has proposed a six-year authorization plan, which is not a bill yet, that calls for a 30 percent cut in transportation funding to match the revenue levels coming into the Highway Trust Fund. His plan calls for more private sector involvement to make up the shortfalls in available federal funding.
U.S. senators, including Barbara Boxer, D-CA, chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, have proposed a two-year authorization bill for surface transportation at current funding levels, which amount to more than $50 billion per year.
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