Deja Vu: Congress Could Put Off Deal on Transport Bill Until Next Month

After a day of
twists and turns, the House yesterday approved a three-month extension
of the current law that governs spending on the nation’s transit,
bridges, and roads. Yet the 335-85 vote obscures an ongoing clash between the House and Senate that could extend into a fourth straight month.

59a_confusing_road_signs.jpg(Image: East Bay R.E.)

transportation committee chairman Jim Oberstar (D-MN) and most members
on his side of the Capitol contend that a three-month extension is
needed to spur an agreement on a long-term infrastructure bill before
year’s end.

But given Senate Democrats’ preference for an
18-month delay, the two chambers soon could add a one-month extension
of existing transport law to the spending bill that Congress must pass by next week to keep the government funded.

a move would effectively postpone until October 30 the deadline for the
House and Senate to reach an agreement. Oberstar, speaking on the House
floor yesterday, was unmoved by the Senate and White House’s call for a
long delay in reforming transportation spending.

The difficult decisions
that we face today will not be any easier in 18 months, and the
American people will pay the price for our inaction through lost jobs,
decreased mobility, diminished productivity, and continued high levels
of traffic fatalities and injuries.

split their votes on the three-month extension after their leaders
chose to oppose the bill, protesting the mere possibility that a
federal gas tax increase could be debated as a funding mechanism for
Oberstar’s six-year, $500 billion transportation plan. House Minority
Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) accused Oberstar of trying to "buy time to
bring the parties together to the table to agree on a gas tax

Outside of Washington, construction companies
and state DOTs say that uncertain federal funding is slowing down some
massive — and environmentally questionable — road projects. For
example, the Missouri DOT is reportedly in limbo on its $3.5 billion plan to widen I-70 between St. Louis and Kansas City to accommodate truck-only lanes, a project that has drawn criticism from the Sierra Club and other green groups.


Oberstar to Back 3-Month Delay in Transport Bill As Soon As Next Week

House transportation committee chairman Jim Oberstar (D-MN) is readying a proposal to extend current infrastructure law by three months — 15 months less than the delay preferred by the White House — and could introduce the legislation as soon as next week, his office said today. House transport committee chairman Jim Oberstar (D-MN) (Photo: Capitol […]

Make-or-Break Week for Transportation Begins on the Hill

After weeks of uncertainty and tension, the congressional impasse over long-term transportation funding is headed for resolution this week — but the reprieve may be temporary. A decisive week lies ahead for House transport chairman Jim Oberstar (D-MN). (Photo: Capitol Chatter) When we last left House transportation committee chairman Jim Oberstar (D-MN), he was calling […]

Lawmakers Cross Party Lines on Transpo Funding as Debate Rages

An 18-month extension of existing transportation law cleared the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee today, but not before spirited debate on a proposal billed as a compromise with House members who remain strongly opposed to the Senate’s stopgap. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), chairman of the Senate environment committee (Photo: Politics Now) The "clean" re-upping of […]