Prior to the Congressional July 4th recess, Conferees on the TEA-21 reauthorization reached key agreements on the funding framework for the bill, including setting the over-all six-year funding level for the bill at $286.4 billion. Given that funds for fiscal year 2004 have already been distributed, the five-year total funding the bill would provide equates to $244 billion.
Conferees also reached agreements on the percentage of total authorizations that will be provided for the federal-aid highway and transit programs as well as the percentage of total funds that will be available for Members’ special project earmarks. In addition, while the Conferees agreed to set the scope of total highway funding subject to equity calculations at 90.2%, it is uncertain whether they will be able to achieve their objective to provide all states with a minimum of 92% (currently 90.5%) of their share of Highway Trust Fund contributions.
Since reaching these agreements, Conferee staff has been running the numbers to determine whether this funding framework is feasible and can produce a passable bill in both the House and the Senate. Staff is also making progress on the many policy issues in the bill. AGC will continue to work with conferees on policy issues important to the construction industry.
The current eighth short-term extension of TEA-21 expires on July 19th. It is likely that Congress will enact a ninth short-term extension that will expire no later than the end of July to encourage enactment of a final bill prior to the month-long Congressional recess in August.