House Transportation chair introduces three-month extension bill

By Clarissa Kell-Holland, Land Line staff writer | 3/22/2012

Time is running out for Congress to pass a new long-term highway bill as the funding of the country’s current federal surface transportation programs is set to expire on March 31.

On Thursday, March 22, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman John Mica, R-FL, introduced a three-month extension bill that the House will consider next week.

The bill – HR4239 – the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012 – would extend current funding for highway and transit programs through June 30. This would be the ninth extension of the current transportation bill, known as SAFETEA-LU, which expired in 2009.

At his weekly press conference on Thursday, House Speaker John A. Boehner, R-OH, said the House would not take up the long-term highway bill passed by the Senate on March 14 because it didn’t address “the issue of rising gas prices.”

The three-month extension would allow House Republicans more time to work on their highway reauthorization bill – the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act, a five-year, $260 billion bill, that focuses on linking energy and infrastructure.

The Senate’s bipartisan surface legislation – S1813 – Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century – or MAP-21 – is a two-year, $109 billion proposal. The vote passed 74-22.

OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer said that while the Senate bill isn’t perfect, it “represents an important step forward in reforming our surface transportation programs back to where they belong.”

One provision OOIDA will continue to address with lawmakers as the House and Senate debate a new long-term highway bill is the mandate for electronic on-board recorders in commercial vehicles.

“There is still a long way to go before a new highway bill reaches the president’s desk, but we will continue to fight against costly and unnecessary mandates like requiring EOBRs in commercial vehicles,” Spencer said. 

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