Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Extensions? Continuations? -- An Update

Whether because of the ongoing health care debate or other factors, progress on the annual cycle of appropriations has slowed in Congress. This month, President Obama signed the USDA appropriations into law (PL 111-80), and is expected to sign the Homeland Security appropriations into law any day now. Transportation-HUD appropriations have passed both the House and Senate, but there've not been any conference committee negotiations. The Senate hasn't even taken up Labor/Health & Human Services/Education spending. Up-to-the-minute details are kept on the "Thomas" web site.

The current one-month continuing resolution expires on Halloween. There'll be some kind of continuation after that point. One possibility, reported in Government Executive, is a continuing resolution through mid-December, tagged to one of the bills soon to emerge from conference, such as the Interior/Environment appropriations bill. Or maybe Congress will take a different approach.

What is much less certain is the nature of the next SAFETEA-LU extension. DC.Streetsblog reports that a six-month extension remains under consideration. The House passed a three-month extension of SAFETEA-LU last month. As reported through several intermediaries, Congressional Quarterly is hinting that the White House idea of an 18-month extension may be slipping off the table in Congress. In any case, some kind of extension for the highway and transit authorization must be passed this week.

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