|Young favored 6-month bill, |
but acceded to 5-month version.
(Photo courtesy of Rep.)
The bill would provide more than $14 billion in highway contract authority and more than $3 billion for mass transit grants.
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Don Young (R-Alaska) said he had been assured that the House five-month extension would be taken up by the Senate and approved quickly. It had not been acted on by 1 p.m. on Sept. 25.
The bill then would go to the White House for President Bush's signature. Young had preferred a six-month extension but said he backed the five-month version because of the assurance of quick action by the Senate. "We do not have time to continue a debate on this extension," Young said. "It must go to the President immediately and become law."
The current statute, the 1998 Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century--TEA-21--runs out on Sept. 30. If no new law is enacted by that date, the Federal Highway Administration would be prevented from reimbursing state departments of transportation for any highway obligations they incur. It also would lead to a shutdown of FHWA itself in October.
Congress turned to a short-term extension of TEA-21 because of a stalemate over the size of a multi-year successor to that law. The main sticking point has been what revenue sources to tap to increase highway and transit spending. Young favors increasing the motor fuels tax, but President Bush has opposed that.
If that stalemate persists, it will mean another crisis for highway funding next February.
Young also said he planned to introduce a six-year transportation bill by the end of the current congressional session. He said it would authorize $375 billion, an increase of more than 70% over TEA-21's level.