Congress may not meet highway funding deadline

News NAPA July 21, 2003
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With the start of congressional recess just two weeks away, it appears now that neither chamber of Congress will take formal ac

With the start of congressional recess just two weeks away, it appears now that neither chamber of Congress will take formal action on a multi-year surface transportation reauthorization bill before September.


On July 9, the Senate leadership met with the chairmen of the committees with jurisdiction over the bill. Reports from the meeting indicate that they could not reach agreement on funding. A Senate Finance Committee proposal to transfer transit funding to the highway program and fund transit through the issuance of federal bonds met stiff resistance from the Banking Committee leadership.


Meanwhile, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee leadership confirmed their commitment to a six-year bill on July 15, but will not formally consider a bill. Instead, Chairman Don Young (R-Alaska) and ranking Democratic member Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.) hope to introduce a "bare bones" bill before the House adjourns. The proposal is expected to include an outline of the major funding levels for the federal highway and transit program and how those funding levels will be met.


The lack of action in both the House and Senate to move a reauthorization bill likely guarantees the need for a short-term extension of the highway program.


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