- The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure has proposed a $325 billion, six-year transportation bill, but already anticipates that the Ways and Means Committee will only be able to come up with funding for three years, the Washington Post reported.
- House staff members are pressing forward with the bill anyway so that if, or when, the additional funds are found, passage of a new authorization bill would be unnecessary. In addition, the Post reported, House staffers said states would be more assured by a six-year plan and better able to plan their capital spending programs.
- Transportation funding expires on Oct. 29, and it is doubtful, according to the Post, that the bill will be able to win approval in so short a time. That means yet another extension, possibly the 35th authorized for existing funding legislation since 2009.
The Senate has already passed a six-year highway bill, but it also includes only three years of funding.
Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) said in a joint statement, "We are very pleased that the House is moving forward with a long-term, bipartisan bill... We look forward to getting to conference and resolving the differences in the two bills."
As we reported after the July extension of transportation funding, the status of this bill does not only affect state budget planning. Construction hiring could stall in a climate of uncertainty, and workers could be let go if highway projects are tabled or forced to shut down.
In fact, the CMD Group reported the worst September nonresidential start number in a decade, largely due to the road and highway funding debacle in Washington.
If the House bill were to pass, it would provide greater emphasis on freight movement, encourage vehicle-to-infrastructure equipment installation and improve truck and bus safety via new transportation technologies, among other items designed to streamline various aspects of transportation.