Surface transportation bill in House's corner

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 3/19/2012

With the Senate passing a surface transportation bill last week, the pressure is now on the House to keep the process moving forward. Time pressure is part of the equation as well, as the current transportation program is set to expire March 31.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-OH, is expected to announce a plan of action this week. The options facing the House include sticking with their initial transportation bill known as HR7, taking up the Senate version of the bill, or drafting something different altogether.

Senate leaders sent a letter to Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-VA, urging them to pass the Senate’s bill, S1813, also known as MAP-21.

President Obama also piled on to put pressure on the House.

“Last week, the Senate passed a bipartisan transportation bill that will keep construction workers on the job and keep our economy growing. Now the House of Representatives needs to take bipartisan action so I can sign this into law,” Obama said in a statement issued by the White House on Monday afternoon.

Lawmakers are headed for a ninth extension of the 2005 transportation law known as SAFETEA-LU unless something happens with a new bill before the eighth temporary extension expires on March 31.

Recapping the proposals, S1813 is a two-year, $109 billion proposal, while at last count, HR7 was a five-year, $230 billion bill. Other than duration and funding proposals, the two bills contain similarities such as program reform and project delivery times. Both would create jobs.

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