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AASHTO Journal

Senate OKs Extension of Transportation <br>Appropriations & Authorization to March 4
The Senate voted 79-16 this afternoon to temporarily extend through March 4 federal highway and transit programs as well as appropriations for the U.S. Department of Transportation and other government agencies. The House of Representatives is expected to concur this evening and send the bill to President Barack Obama for his signature.

Funding for the federal government under the current continuing resolution expires tonight, and temporary authorization for highway and transit programs is scheduled to lapse Dec. 31. This stopgap measure would be the sixth short-term extension of the 2005 surface transportation authorization law known as "SAFETEA-LU," which originally expired Sept. 30, 2009.

Congress had considered earlier this month an appropriations and authorization package for the rest of this fiscal year (see Dec. 17 AASHTO Journal story) but decided over the weekend to move forward with a shorter-term bill.

The Senate-passed continuing resolution would continue appropriations through March 4 at Fiscal Year 2010 enacted levels for most programs. The Senate vote on HR 3082 took place at 2 p.m. EST today, sending the bill back to the House for concurrence.

Congress on Saturday passed a three-day continuing resolution (HJR 105) that funds government activities from Sunday through today, giving House and Senate lawmakers three more days to work out a deal on a longer-term measure.

House Close to Adjourning for Year

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, announced this morning that the House could adjourn for the year late today or early Wednesday after clearing the appropriations measure and a few other last-minute pieces of legislation.

Hoyer predicted the House would vote "within a few hours" of receiving the March 4 continuing resolution from the Senate, Roll Call reported.

The Senate continues debating a nuclear-arms treaty with Russia. Its adjournment date is not yet certain.

Aviation Programs Extended Until March 31

In a separate measure this past weekend, the Senate approved a three-month extension of authorization for programs under the Federal Aviation Administration as well as extending current aviation taxes and the authority to spend money from the Airport and Airway Trust Fund. The bill has been sent to the White House for presidential signature, after which the authorization will be valid through March 31.

A long-term FAA reauthorization bill has been stalled since September 2007. This is the 17th short-term measure continuing FAA's authorization since that time.

Rep. John Mica, R-Florida and incoming chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has committed to making the passage of this bill his first priority for the coming year.

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