President Bush has signed into law legislation that extends the highway and transit programs for five months, averting a cutoff of federal surface transportation funds. Bush signed the bill on Sept. 30, the White House announced the following day. The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, which provided more than $220 billion for highway and transit over the past six years, expired Sept. 30.
If no new bill had been enacted, the Federal Highway Administration would have been unable to reimburse state agencies for road-building financial obligations they incurred after that date.
Although the newly enacted measure keeps funds flowing through Feb. 29, 2004, there may be no change by that point in the stalemate over a multi-year successor to TEA-21. It was that standoff that made the five-month extension a necessity.
Some in Congress are pushing for a new long-term bill with a funding increase of up to 70% over TEA-21's level. But that hinges in part on raising the federal motor fuels taxes and President Bush has opposed such a hike.