With less than two weeks remaining before the expiration of the federal highway and transit programs, House and Senate authorizers drafted bills to keep the programs operating. Quick action, however, may be delayed by disagreement over a six-month versus a five-month extension.
Last week the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee drafted a "clean" bill that would extend the highway program for six months by providing a half year worth of contract authority and of obligation limitation. The House is basing its numbers on those included in the House-passed appropriations bill, which carried a limit of $33.4 billion for the full year.
The House bill also included discretionary allocations, funding to keep federal agencies operating, a set number for minimum guarantee funding and funding exempt from the obligation limitation for such programs as a part of minimum guarantee and emergency relief.
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Don Young (R-Alaska) made it known in a speech before the American Road & Transportation Builders Association that he was under pressure from House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) to extend the program for only five months and force action on the bill before Congress considers the FY 2005 budget resolution.
Senate transportation leaders also met last week to consider their next step, discussing a five-month, six-month and a two-year extension. The Senate version is likely to have slightly higher funding levels based on the transportation funding levels contained in the FY 2004 budget resolution.