Thursday, December 9, 2010

Preparing for extensions, continuations

As widely reported, federal spending for the current fiscal year (i.e., the year ending September 30, 2011, or FY 2011), has not been finalized by Congress and Pres. Obama. The current "continuing resolution" is keeping the federal government in business through Dec. 18, 2010.

The House has passed a massive, government-wide continuing spending bill that would sustain federal programs and activities through the remainder of the fiscal year. Under this legislation, most federal programs would be sustained at their FY 2010 funding levels, with some adjustments here and there. The House bill appears to be devoid of specific project earmarks.

For a number of reasons, this bill is believed to face an uncertain fate in the Senate. Until something predictable starts to emerge in Senate deliberations, I'm loath to post or predict funding levels.

In the transportation arena, one of the critical components of the House spending bill is a one-year extension of the current SAFETEA-LU highway and transit legislation, continuing these authorizations through September 30, 2011.

Speaking of extended authorizations, another piece of legislation, the Claims Resolution Act of 2010, was just signed into law by Pres. Obama. While the headline features of this bill are guaranteeing settlements for Native Americans (over BIA-administered trust accounts) and African-American farmers (concerning improperly denied farm loans), a key feature of this legislation for public and community transportation stakeholders is an extension of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program authorizations through September 30, 2011.

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