With another deadline just days away, the House has approved yet another stopgap measure to avoid curtailing federal highway and transit funding.
The latest extension, which the House passed on Nov. 16 by voice vote, carries road and transit programs through Dec. 4, providing lawmakers more time to craft a compromise multi-year transportation measure.
The proposed stopgap would replace an extension that is set to expire on Nov. 20.
House and Senate lawmakers are scheduled to hold their first conference committee meeting on Nov. 18 to reconcile differences between six-year surface transportation measures that they approved earlier.
The Senate in July approved a $350-billion, six-year measure; the House on Nov. 5 passed a bill estimated at more than $335 billion. But the Senate version has only enough actual funding for three years; the House’s would fully fund about five years.
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), who is expected to lead his chamber’s negotiating team, said in a statement that the two sides “are making good progress in resolving differences between their respective multi-year surface transportation reauthorization proposals.”
But, bowing to the reality of the looming deadline, Shuster added that conferees need another extension to provide time to work out a final compromise measure.
Shuster said, “This clean extension provides time for that process to occur and for the House and Senate to vote on the final legislation, without shutting down transportation programs and projects in the meantime.”
Sen. Barbara Boxer (Calif.), expected to be Democrats’ lead conferee, told Politico “We are working night and day and really making great progress. So I think it’s prudent to extend it.” She added, “We do need a couple more days.”
Aides from both sides already have been working out compromises between the bills’ policy provisions, industry sources said.
The major unresolved issue is funding, sources said.
The House and Senate bills differ on revenue-raising provisions that would offset expected transportation-funding transfers from the general Treasury.
For example, one such Senate “pay-for” calls for the Federal Reserve to cut dividends it now pays to banks. The House rejected that plan and instead has language directing the Fed to liquidate its surplus account.
The new stopgap would be the fifth extension since Sept. 30, 2014, when the last multi-year measure, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, expired.