Thursday, February 25, 2010

Extensions remain out of sync

In the bigger picture, it's not a huge issue. But if you're a state DOT or a transit agency, there's a dire need to know what's up with the extension of SAFETEA-LU, the current highway and transit authorization.

The Senate's just-passed job-creation legislation would extend these programs through December 31, 2010.

It's not clear what the House is going to do with this latest bill from the Senate. Therefore, the House just passed a measure that would provide short-term extensions for a number of things, including federal payments for unemployment benefits, Medicare payments for doctors, enhanced COBRA benefits, and a short-term extension of SAFETEA-LU. In this latest House bill, the highway and transit programs' authorizations would go through March 28, 2010.

In brief, though, there are pockets of resistance to the Senate bill among House members, and there are pockets of resistance to this House bill among Senate members.

The clock runs out on the current transportation bill in less than a week. Inevitably, Congress and the White House will come to terms on another extension, but there will be some moments of continued dispute and uncertainty until the 11th hour.

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