Road and bridge industry left in limbo

News AASHTO Journal October 29, 2002
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President George W

President George W. Bush signed the first two of 13 major appropriation bills for FY 2003, leaving the 11 others to the lame duck Congress that is scheduled to return to Washington on Nov. 12.

Bush signed into law the $355 billion defense spending bill and the $10.5 billion military construction bill. Those two measures are the only ones that Congress was able to enact before recessing for the mid-term election which may result in a shift in power in the closely divided House and Senate. The potential for such a shift is one of the factors that paralyzed the appropriations process, resulting in the enactment of four Continuing Resolutions, the latest of which extends the operation of the federal government through Nov. 22. Some observers expect the logjam of spending bills will not be broken possibly until December, depending on the outcome of the elections.

The Department of Transportation is operating at the same level of funding as FY 2002, with one exception. The last Continuing Resolution allowed states to obligate highway funding at a rate of $31.8 billion, but imposed an overall cap of $27.7 billion, the obligation ceiling contained in the DOT spending bill reported by the House Appropriations Committee.

Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.), ranking minority member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, warned the fix provided in the CR was only short term. "The reality is states have to be able to plan long term. They cannot plan much longer than August of 2003, at which time the program crashes back to $27.7 billion and we lose 195,000 good-paying jobs in our economy."

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Road and bridge industry left in limbo | Roads & Bridges


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