Final action on spending bill may be delayed

News AASHTO Journal December 01, 2003
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Despite a breakthrough in negotiations on an omnibus-spending bill, final action on the bill is to be taken in the House of Rep

Despite a breakthrough in negotiations on an omnibus-spending bill, final action on the bill is to be taken in the House of Representatives on Dec. 8 and in the Senate a day later.


The Administration and Congressional negotiators reached agreement on the issue of media ownership limitations, which had held up action on the $328 billion omnibus appropriations that includes H.R. 2989, the appropriations for the Transportation and Treasury departments.


The compromise paved the way for appropriators to file a conference report. The House is scheduled to return Dec. 8 to act on the conference agreement, with the Senate expected to follow on Dec. 9.


One provision added to the conference report on Monday was an across-the-board cut of .59% for federal spending, amounting to about $3 billion overall. However, this cut does not apply to the federal highway obligation authority, but rather to the $13.4 billion in highway apportionments made available under the short-term extension of TEA-21. As a result, those apportionments may be reduced by $790 million.


Meanwhile, Congressional leaders worked out a temporary-spending package to keep the government running through Jan. 31 in the event the omnibus appropriations bill was not completed.


H.R. 2989 is now part of the larger omnibus bill, which includes seven of the 13 annual appropriations bills on which Congress must act. The transportation appropriations would provide a $33.8 billion obligation ceiling for highways, $7.3 billion for transit and $1.2 billion for the passenger-rail service Amtrak.


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