The outgoing chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has urged Congress to approve a one-year extension of current highway legislation so the new Congress that convenes in January will have time to â€œcome to agreement on a funding mechanism for a six-year bill.â€�
Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.), who was defeated in the Nov. 2 election (click here for previous story), said this week he could not predict whether the lame-duck session of the current Congress would pass a one-year extension, or more in the series of short-term extensions that have kept highway programs functioning since the transportation authorizing law expired Sept. 30, 2009.
The lame-duck Congress also will need to act on a continuing resolution to ensure that the federal government, including the Department of Transportation, continues to be funded after Dec. 3. The current continuing resolution authorizes federal government spending near fiscal year 2010 levels.
â€œIt is not yet known for what period the highway program will be extended, but we expect it will be for less than one year,â€� said Mary Phillips, senior vice president of legislative affairs for American Trucking Associations.
â€œThe thinking right now is that if there is a shot at getting a highway bill enacted, the bill will need to be done in the next six to eight months before weâ€™re into the next election cycle,â€� she said.
â€œIt looks as though another short-term continuing resolution will be approved,â€� Phillips said. â€œItâ€™s unclear whatâ€™s going to happen after that, whether there will be a long-term continuing resolution or an omnibus bill,â€� Phillips added.
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