The House has voted to continue funding most federal programs at their 2002 levels through Jan. 11, thus putting off action on the 2003 appropriations bills until the new, Republican-controlled Congress begins. The House approved the continuing resolution on Nov. 13, by a 270-143 vote. The Senate was expected to follow suit.
The latest CR requires that federal highway funds be distributed at their 2002 level of $31.8 billion, on a pro rated basis. Construction groups had supported that figure.
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Don Young (R-Alaska) said, "We can't be certain that Congress will move quickly to enact appropriations bills in January." He added, "Because of this uncertainty, it is imperative that we be absolutely clear that the highway program will continue at the full enacted funding level of $31.8 billion."
The CR also limits the amount of highway funds that can be distributed to $27.7 billion. Young says he has a pledge from House leaders that the cap will be removed when a new CR comes up in January. He says, "I will hold leadership to their commitment to address this issue before the next CR comes to the House floor."
Only two of the 13 appropriations bills for 2003 have been enacted--Dept. of Defense and military construction. Agencies covered by the other 11 measures, including many with large construction programs, would be subject to the pending CR.