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Federal Transportation Bill

House Voting Today on Transport Law Extension — What’s Next?

12:11 PM PDT on September 23, 2009

The House is slated to vote this afternoon on a three-month
extension of the 2005 federal infrastructure law, as proposed yesterday
by transportation committee chairman Jim Oberstar (D-MN).

A full copy of the bill, expected to pass easily, is available here.
But the bigger question of what happens next, with just three
legislative days left until the nation's transportation law expires,
remains unanswered. Meanwhile, two new wrinkles in the story are
emerging this morning.

First, the subscription-only BNA
newsletter reports that Oberstar's three-month proposal does not
include language preventing the cancellation of $8.7 billion in highway
contract authority, which is set to take effect next week unless
Congress acts. The road lobby is growing increasingly concerned
that it could lose out on the money, which Senate environment committee
chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) promised to restore during floor debate
over her proposed 18-month extension of transportation law.

Second,
some doubt is beginning to emerge over whether Boxer's 18-month plan
will pass this month. The Senate's No. 2 Democrat, Dick Durbin (D-IL), said yesterday that his colleagues are mulling over whether to pass a short-term or long-term extension of the 2005 transport law.

With the House also sending
the Senate a three-month extension of the law governing federal
aviation programs, the upper chamber could decide to bundle the
transportation and aviation measures together. Still, a short-term
extension is unlikely to sit well with the Obama administration, which
continues to seek an 18-month delay.

Streetsblog
Capitol Hill has requested comment from Boxer's office on how she plans
to proceed following the House's vote today. We'll update you as more
becomes available.

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