President Obama signed a bill on Oct. 1 providing a one-month extension for the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: a Legacy for Users and one month’s appropriations for nearly all federal agencies. In a blow to state transportation agencies, the Senate failed to pass a three-month SAFETEA-LU extension, thus triggering an $8.7-billion rescission of highway contract authority.
Under the continuing resolution (CR) that Obama signed, agencies have funding to carry through Oct. 31, generally at 2009 levels. SAFETEA-LU was extended through that date, too. The measure was needed because Congress had not approved any of the 12 appropriations bills for fiscal 2010, which began Oct. 1. SAFETEA-LU also expired on Sept. 30. The CR does provide full-year 2010 funds for legislative programs.
In the Senate, Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and James Inhofe (Okla.), the committee’s top GOP member, tried to push through a three-month SAFETEA-LU stopgap that also would have repealed the $8.7-billion highway-aid rescission.
But Republicans objected to the budgetary offset Boxer and Inhofe proposed: $300 million from Troubled Assets Relief Program funds. Boxer objected to a counterproposal from Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) to use some unspent American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money. The standstill left the next step unclear.
Obama on Oct. 1 also signed a three-month extension for aviation programs, including airport construction grants.