Transportation Weekly and Politico both reported this week that House leaders directed staff to prepare another 90-day extension of the current authorization through September. The House and Senate on March 30 approved HR 4281, a clean 90-day extension of the current surface transportation authorization, known as SAFETEA-LU, through June 30, 2012. It was the 9th extension of the current authorization.
If the House passes another extension, the Senate could choose to go directly to a House-Senate conference to work out a compromise between the House extension and the Senate's recently passed two-year transportation bill dubbed MAP-21, both Politico and Transportation Weekly reported.
MAP-21, which passed the Senate in March, would reauthorize federal surface transportation programs through Sept. 30, 2013, and raise $15 billion in revenue to pay for maintaining current funding levels plus inflation. But the measure is still waiting House consideration.
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer, D-CA, and Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee Chairman Tim Johnson, D-SD, sent a letter this week to House Speaker John Boehner, R-OH, urging him allow the House to take up and pass the Senate bill. The Boxer and Johnson letter cited a recent Standard & Poor's report that warned states could pay higher interest rates on bonds that fund transportation, or find it hard to get financing for transportation projects, without a long-term federal surface transportation authorization.
So far, House leaders have not announced their plans for moving ahead on transportation legislation, although Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica, R-FL, said last month he expected to again take up a five-year transportation bill once Congress passed the latest short-term extension (see March 23 AASHTO Journal story).