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2009 Transportation Bill

Oberstar’s 3-Month Transport Bill Extension Heading to House Floor

11:35 AM EDT on September 22, 2009

A three-month extension of existing federal infrastructure law -- which is set to expire in eight days -- is headed for a vote in the full House this week, likely as soon as tomorrow, according to a spokesman for transportation committee chairman Jim Oberstar (D-MN).

422093580_050ae3f4c9.jpgHouse transport committee chairman Jim Oberstar (D-MN) (Photo: Bike Portland via Flickr)

Oberstar is preparing to formally introduce his three-month stopgap transport bill later today, spokesman Jim Berard told Streetsblog Capitol Hill. The bill is set to be considered on the House's "suspensions" calendar, limiting the time for debate and requiring a two-thirds majority for approval.

The House's decision to press onward with a three-month delay sets up a game of legislative chicken similar to the one that developed in late July, when Oberstar was still standing firm on his vow to produce a new transportation bill before September 30. That impasse ended with the Senate and White House prevailing and the nation's highway trust fund receiving a $7 billion infusion to keep it solvent until the end of this month.

Will this month's version end with the House again bowing to the Obama administration's preference that a new transport bill not be considered until early 2011? Now, as in July, the deck is stacked against the lower chamber of Congress. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business interests are behind Oberstar's three-month plan, but their lobbying in favor of a gas tax increase has not yet succeeded in rousing a reluctant Congress.

Meanwhile, the American Association of State and Highway Transportation Officials, popularly known as the "road lobby," is concerned largely with averting a cancellation of $8.7 billion in federal funds that would automatically occur if the House and Senate do not reach an agreement by next week.

Stay tuned for more information on Oberstar's forthcoming extension plan.

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