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2009 Transportation Bill

Transport Policy Update: Senate to Pass 6-Month Extension This Week

Before week's end, the Senate will pass a six-month extension of the nation's four-year-old transportation law -- setting the stage for another showdown with the House, where transportation committee chairman Jim Oberstar remains on the fence about abandoning the push for a new long-term bill before 2010.

13MVC-013L_1.JPGPhoto: USGS.gov

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) confirmed yesterday that the upper chamber would scale back its original plan to delay the next federal transportation law by 18 months, as was originally proposed by the Obama administration.

A six-month extension is "expect[ed] to pass," Reid said on the Senate floor last night. That leaves the ball in Oberstar's court, with time running out before the expiration of the one-month reprieve under which state transportation officials are now operating.

If the Senate can keep its six-month extension within the budgetary boundaries set by the House "pay-as-you-go" rule, which requires any new spending to be offset by cuts elsewhere, that may force the hand of Democrats in the lower chamber.

An early answer from the House side may well come tomorrow, when Oberstar is scheduled to appear at a rally sponsored by the construction equipment industry aimed at drumming up support for passage of a new infrastructure bill before the end of the year.

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