With federal highway funding authority set to lapse on Sept. 24, key Senators have introduced legislation to keep the money flowing for another six months. The legislation was introduced in the evening of Sept 21 by Sens. Christopher Bond (R-Mo.) and Harry Reid (D-Nev.). Though an agreement on a new long-term transportation bill before Congress recesses in early October isn't out of the question, the Bond-Reid six-month extension would push the deadline past the Nov. 2 elections and into next year and a new Congress.
Since the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century lapsed last Sept. 30, Congress has been unable to strike a deal on a new long-term measure. House and Senate conferees met before the August congressional recess to try to reconcile differences between the $318-billion bill the Senate passed in February and the $284-billion version the House approved in April. But they have been unable to agree on how much money a compromise bill would contain.
The failure to reach agreement has led to a series of five short, stopgap extensions since TEA-21 ran out. The latest of those extensions expires Sept. 24 for the highway program and Sept. 30 for transit and highway safety programs.
Bond said the new six-month legislation "allows us to continue our difficult negotiations and keep the pressure on."
On Sept. 19, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials approved a resolution supporting a six-month bill if Congress found an extension is "absolutely necessary."