Temporary extension inevitable as work on highway bill continues

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 3/6/2012

With an important deadline looming, and without a long-term transportation bill in place, Congress is on the verge of considering another temporary extension to keep transportation programs afloat.

The U.S. Senate continues to work on a two-year, $109 billion transportation bill but lawmakers were still debating procedure on Tuesday, March 6.

Members of the House of Representatives are in the process of regrouping after testing the waters on a five-year, $230 billion transportation bill that some said wouldn’t float.

Even with work continuing and some progress being made, Congress must deal with a March 31 deadline as the provisions of the current transportation law known as SAFETEA-LU are set to expire for the eighth time since 2009. Another short-term, temporary extension is all but inevitable at this point.

“It’s pretty much a given now,” OOIDA Director of Legislative Affairs Ryan Bowley said. “It really boils down to how long that extension will last because we do have the summer construction season coming up, especially in the northern states.”

OOIDA supports the passage of a long-term authorization bill to replace the status quo.

“We’re still confident that the House and Senate will continue to make steady progress,” Bowley says. “We’re just not in the through-lane yet. We’re still queued up in the local lane. Passing a bill like this, no matter how long it is and how much money it is, is obviously challenging and takes time.”

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