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House Passes Seventh Extension of Transportation Bill

Just in the nick of time, the House has passed an extension of the current transportation law. The sixth extension of SAFETEA-LU was set to expire this Friday.

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The extension is not expected to face any problems in the Senate.

Although the House has been cutting every expenditure it can get its hands on, it can’t get its hands on the bulk of the surface transportation program, since it’s funded out of the dedicated Highway Trust Fund (in the process of being renamed the Transportation Trust Fund). This extension passed the House 421-4.

Transportation Committee Chair John Mica (R-FL) introduced the extension, which will keep the transportation system funded at current levels until the end of the fiscal year on September 30. He says constant short-term extensions have created too many headaches for the industry, which can’t plan amidst such uncertainty.

A government shutdown could still jeopardize transportation funding, since this bill simply authorizes money, which still must be appropriated and disbursed. Lawmakers are cautiously optimistic that a two-week budget extension, which has now been passed by both houses, will give them enough time to hammer out a compromise on the controversial spending cuts passed by the House.

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