Averting an April 30 shutdown of federal transportation programs, the Senate has approved legislation that keeps highway and transit aid flowing for two more months. Senate passage of the bill,which came by unanimous consent on April 29, is final congressional action on the bill. It now goes to President Bush for his signature.

The measure, which the House had approved, 410-0, a day earlier, authorizes surface transportation programs at current funding levels through June 30.It is the third extension since Sept. 30, when the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) expired. The House and Senate also have passed differing versions of a six-year reathorization, but there has been no formal meeting yet of House and Senate negotiators to reconcile those two bills.

Bond was persuaded to lift his hold on the two-month bill

Senate action on the two-month extension was stalled for much of April 29 by transportation and infrastructure subcommittee Chairman Christopher Bond (R- Mo.). Bond put a hold on the bill because he wanted to press Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) to name lawmakers for the conference on the six-year measure. The current extension is scheduled to run out at midnight April 30. If no new legislation is enacted, the Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration would be forced to furlough nearly all of their workers and the agencies would be unable to reimburse state agencies for highway and transit funding commitments.

But late in the day, Bond was persuaded to lift his hold, and the two-month extension was approved.

(Photo courtesy of office of Sen. Christopher Bond)