Transportation shutdown averted; 90 days 'til the next crisis

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 3/29/2012

The U.S. House and Senate came to terms to pass a temporary extension of the current federal transportation program on Thursday, March 29. The action ensures another 90 days of the status quo and kicks the can down the road on a longer-term authorization bill.

House lawmakers passed an extension without amendments or changes to the current program by a vote of 266-158. In that total, 10 Republicans voted against the extension while 37 Democrats crossed the aisle to vote in favor.

A short time later, the Senate approved the extension by voice vote.

The three-month extension marks the ninth time Congress has extended programs on a temporary basis since the previous transportation law known as SAFETEA-LU expired in September 2009. The program had been scheduled to expire again on Saturday, March 31.

As the extension came up for vote, House lawmakers said they needed more time to complete work on a multiyear bill to replace SAFETEA-LU.

At last count, the House is still seeking a five-year, $230 billion authorization bill, but it has not yet come to the floor for a vote.

The Senate has already passed a two-year, $109 billion bill, but House lawmakers have not taken action on it.