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2009 Transportation Bill

Who Still Thinks the Federal Transportation Bill Will Pass On Time?

Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-MN), chairman of the House transportation committee, has vowed not to support any short-term extensions of the federal transportation bill that's poised to expire on September 30. But Oberstar's commitment to getting the dense legislation to the president's desk on time may be tested by leaders of his own party.

Asked this morning about when Oberstar's bill would be considered by the full House, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said that it's unlikely to come up before the end of July:

[W]e were hopeful that we could do something early June. But the schedule for the next six weeks is so crammed full ... I mean, it is a very, very full and optimistic agenda. I understand that is a heavy load. So I doubt that we will be able to get other major pieces of legislation like the highway trust fund bill in there. But I also believe that they have -- they are continuing to work on it. Mr. Oberstar is working very hard.

Congress historically recesses for the month of August, meaning that Hoyer's timeline likely would push the federal transportation bill to September.

That leaves 30 days to secure approval from the House and Senate, as well as a conference to unite the two chambers' versions of the bill, before a short-term extension of the existing legislation is required. Expecting Congress to move that quickly -- to use Hoyer's term -- would be optimistic indeed.

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