Oberstar’s 3-Month Transport Bill Extension Heading to House Floor

A three-month extension of existing federal infrastructure law –
which is set to expire in eight days — is headed for a vote in the
full House this week, likely as soon as tomorrow, according to a
spokesman for transportation committee chairman Jim Oberstar (D-MN).

422093580_050ae3f4c9.jpgHouse transport committee chairman Jim Oberstar (D-MN) (Photo: Bike Portland via Flickr)

Oberstar is preparing to formally introduce his three-month stopgap transport bill
later today, spokesman Jim Berard told Streetsblog Capitol Hill. The
bill is set to be considered on the House’s "suspensions" calendar,
limiting the time for debate and requiring a two-thirds majority for
approval.

The House’s decision to press onward with a three-month delay
sets up a game of legislative chicken similar to the one that developed
in late July,
when Oberstar was still standing firm on his vow to produce a new
transportation bill before September 30. That impasse ended with the
Senate and White House prevailing and the nation’s highway trust fund
receiving a $7 billion infusion to keep it solvent until the end of
this month.

Will this month’s version end with the House
again bowing to the Obama administration’s preference that a new
transport bill not be considered until early 2011? Now, as in July, the
deck is stacked against the lower chamber of Congress. The U.S. Chamber
of Commerce and other business interests are behind Oberstar’s three-month plan, but their lobbying in favor of a gas tax increase has not yet succeeded in rousing a reluctant Congress.

Meanwhile,
the American Association of State and Highway Transportation Officials,
popularly known as the "road lobby," is concerned largely with averting
a cancellation of $8.7 billion in federal funds that would
automatically occur if the House and Senate do not reach an agreement
by next week.

Stay tuned for more information on Oberstar’s forthcoming extension plan.