With the federal highway and transit programs facing a virtual shutdown at midnight April 30, the House has approved a bill that would keep funds flowing for two more months, but the extension has been stalled in the Senate.
The legislation, which the House passed on April 28 by a 410-0 vote, would authorize surface transportation programs at their current levels through June 30. It would be the third extension since Sept. 30, when the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) expired. New six-year reauthorizations have passed the House and Senate, but no formal meeting of lawmakers to reconcile those bills' differences has taken place.
|Bond puts hold |
Lawmakers had hoped for quick Senate approval of the House's two-month extension, but a problem cropped up. On April 29, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) attempted to bring the extension up on the floor, but Christopher Bond (R-Mo.) put a hold on the measure until Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) appoints negotiators to the conference committee on the six-year transport measure, says Will Hart, spokesman for the Environment and Public Works Committee.
Bond said, "I cannot support another extension and allow this to continue to delay the passing of a six-year bill. The right way to go about moving this bill forward is to appoint conferees and let us work out the problems that are brought before us as we have done in the past."
Rep. Thomas Petri (R-Wisc.) said that until the conference committee on six-year bill finishes its work "this two-month extension through June 30 is a must-pass bill." If the extension isn't enacted by April 30, the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Administration, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration would have to "close their doors and furlough their employees," Petri said.
(Photo courtesy of office of Sen. Christopher Bond)