Federal Transportation Bill in Jeopardy Again

Following last week’s approval by the U.S. Senate for a $109 bill transportation bill, the House of Representatives defeated an attempt yesterday to force a vote on the proposed legislation.  The two-year blueprint approved by the Senate would give states greater spending flexibility. With only ten days remaining until the current transportation funding expires, House leaders have said that they plan to introduce their own legislation that would provide a 90 day extension of transportation funding at the current levels. The Washington Post reports:

“The clock is ticking on the shutdown of our transportation programs,” said [Senator Barbara] Boxer, who was floor leader in crafting bipartisan support for the Senate bill. “We’re talking about almost 3 million jobs, and the House is playing games. This is a jobs bill — make no mistake about it.”

The senators displayed a chart that showed a state-by-state breakdown of the number of jobs they said were in jeopardy if the bill failed.

Cardin said state transportation planners can’t launch projects in Maryland because short-term funding extensions don’t provide the certainty they need to commit funding.

An ambitious House transportation bill faltered in the face of bipartisan opposition to several provisions, including a proposal to end dedicated funding for mass-transit systems. House Transportation Committee Chairman John L. Mica (R-Fla.) said Monday that he hoped to revise that bill after considering the concerns expressed by opponents.

A central question in all transportation debates has been how to find funding at a time when the federal gasoline tax, the traditional funding source, can no longer support the nation’s transportation needs. House Republicans had proposed to expand offshore oil production to help fund transportation, and Mica said Tuesday that continued to be their goal.

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