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7/26/2004



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

TEA-21 reauthorization: Fifth extension pushes congressional vote into fall


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Last week, a House/Senate conference committee approved a fifth extension for the Transportation Equity Act of the 21st Century (TEA-21), under which transit programs will continue to be funded at fiscal-year 2004 levels, according to an American Public Transportation Association Legislative Update.

The latest extension expires on Sept. 30 — one year since the original six-year bill expired. Previous extensions pushed the reauthorization deadline to Feb. 29, April 30, June 30 and July 31.

During the past month, members of the conference committee have conducted several meetings in an attempt to reach a compromise on their bill versions.

In late June, Senate conferees made a formal offer to the House to provide $318 billion in transportation funding during the next six years. On July 20, the Senate offered a new proposal to provide $289 billion in guaranteed funding and $301 billion in contract authority. Two days later, the House made an offer of $283.9 billion in guaranteed funding and $298.9 billion in contract authority.

The Bush Administration has said the president would veto a bill higher than $256 billion. Conference committee members will meet during the August recess to try to reduce funding to near the House’s level.

Also last week, the House Appropriations Committee approved the fiscal-year 2005 transportation-treasury appropriations bill, which would provide $7.2 billion for the federal transit program — a $16 million cut compared with FY2004 — including $900 million for Amtrak.



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