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‘A Dozen or So’ Senators Delay Passage of Oberstar’s Highway Funding Fix

A contentious congressional dispute
$932 million in transportation funding remains unresolved this
week after the Senate approved a one-month extension of federal
aviation law rather than a three-month version of the bill that included
a fix to the provision at issue.

harry_reid_rotunda2.jpgSenate Majority Leader Harry Reid
(D-NV) (Photo: LV
City Life

House transportation committee chairman
Jim Oberstar (D-MN) had added language to the three-month aviation
measure redistributing the $932 million based on existing highway
funding formulas -- rather than giving 58 percent of the money to four
states by extending project earmarks, as would occur under the jobs bill
that President Obama signed
10 days ago

Oberstar's proposed fix also
would amend
language in that jobs bill that disproportionately
under-funded seven federal transportation programs, including Safe
Routes to School, Metropolitan
, and Recreational Trails.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) had vowed to the House
chairman that upper chamber would approve his fix as part of a future
jobs bill, but objections from several senators prevented it from
hitching a ride on the aviation bill.

CQ identified one of the objecting senators in its story on the
issue (sub. req'd.):

An aide to Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., one of the senators who whose state stands to lose under the Oberstarformulation, said he was one of "a dozen or so" senators who hadconcerns.

"The last 11 FAA bills we've passed were clean, and a number ofmembers objected to adding a controversial highway change to that bill," the aide said. "It's an issue that needs to be addressed, but this FAA [bill] simply wasn't the place."

Republicans preferred Oberstar's solution, in partbecause their states by and large would do better under his plan.

The sizable contingent of lawmakers backing Oberstar's changes will get
their next shot at winning Senate passage in two weeks, after Congress
returns from its Easter recess. For more information on which states
would gain or lose in the reallocation of the $932 million, see
this post
from Streetsblog Capitol Hill.

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