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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Congress passes brief extension of highway, transit funding


Congress over the weekend sent to President Obama for his signature a two-month extension of federal funding of highway and transit programs. The surface transportation law known as MAP-21 was set to expire May 31.

The House passed its bill — sponsored by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Bill Shuster (R-PA.) and House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) — a week ago, while the Senate passed the bill on Saturday.

Although pleased that the legislation will prevent a shutdown of summer projects, some transportation industry leaders expressed frustration and disappointment that Congress passed another short-term extension of the Highway Trust Fund.

"This two month extension is a reflection of the inability of Congress to fund a long-term surface transportation bill, which has caused uncertainty among our members," said Bud Wright, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, in a prepared statement. "State DOTs are already postponing construction projects this year because they can’t count on federal funds to be there."

Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), leaders of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, said in a prepared statement that they want Congress to end "costly uncertainty" over the Highway Trust Fund and pass a six-year surface transportation reauthorization bill. Their goal is to mark up such legislation on June 24, they said.