UPDATE: President Barack Obama signed the three-week extension late Thursday — the same day the fund was set to expire. Federal transportation funding will now expire on Nov. 20, unless Congress passes a longer-term solution before that deadline.
UPDATE: The Senate approved the House's three-week funding patch Wednesday, sending the measure to President Obama, who is expected to sign it. The bill extends federal transportation spending until Nov. 20. Senate leaders have said they expect to be able to send a long-term highway funding bill to Obama by Thanksgiving.
UPDATE: The House passed the three-week extension late Tuesday. The Senate is expected to also approve the measure, which lawmakers have said would give them more time to agree on a long-term funding bill. The Senate is now racing to pass the short-term patch before the Thursday expiration date for federal transportation funding authority.
- House GOP leaders, with the $325 billion, six-year Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform (STRR) Act of 2015 still under House consideration, have proposed a three-week extension for federal transportation funding before it expires on Thursday.
- If the funding bill expires, the Department of Transportation will stop making payments to states and local governments for highway and infrastructure projects.
- No additional funding is tied to the three-week measure because Congress included enough money in the July extension to last until the end of the year.
The House leaders' proposal for yet another extension of federal transportation funding comes as no surprise. President Obama is a vocal critic of Congress’ history of one temporary measure after another, but White House spokesperson Eric Schultz said, "The unfortunate reality is Congress will need to pass another short-term" measure.
The Senate passed a three-year transportation funding bill in July, and, when the House passes its bill, the two bodies will go into a conference period that, according to Sen. Jim Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, should be very short.
"With this milestone, Congress should be able to send a bill to the president’s desk by Thanksgiving," Inhofe said. "This will allow for our nation to avoid the Highway Trust Fund hitting a dangerously low level, which DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx warned would significantly affect the 2016 construction season."
The temporary patches for transportation funding has created a climate of uncertainty in the construction industry that has negatively affected construction starts, jobs, and even Caterpillar’s sales, according to the heavy equipment giant.