It’s like Congressional Whack-a-Mole: Transportation bills pop up just long enough to offer a fleeting glimpse before they retract back into oblivion.
Yesterday’s vote on a 90-day extension of federal transportation funding was pulled at the last second, then replaced by a vote today on a 60-day extension. That extension even made it to the floor for debate (though out of sequence with the Majority Leader’s schedule) before it, too, was postponed.
House debated 60-day extension this afternoon but did not vote on it. They’re postponing until later in the week.
— Transport. 4 America (@T4America) March 27, 2012
Remember, Republicans first failed to get 218 out of 244 Republicans to vote for their five-year transportation bill in the six weeks since it was approved in committee. Then, they tried to get 290 votes for a short-term stopgap, but they couldn’t. So today, they thought they could hit 290 votes with an even shorter-term stopgap.
“What do they expect to achieve over the next eight weeks that they were unable to do in the last six weeks?” asked Rep. Nick Rahall, top Democrat on the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, during floor debate. Democrats invoked Eisenhower and Jefferson in their attacks on the stopgap, instead urging a vote on the two-year Senate bill that passed with bipartisan support, but that is currently collecting dust on the House clerk’s desk.
With the House GOP seemingly unwilling to take up the Senate bill, they will likely wait until they only need a simple majority to pass an extension, and in all probability they will pass it along party lines. But the Senate still has to pass an extension of their own to keep transportation funding from expiring at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday.
“There may be more twists and turns,” Larry Ehl writes at Transportation Issues Daily, “but it’s safe to assume an extension of some length WILL be enacted by the end of the week.”