Skip to Content
Streetsblog USA home
Streetsblog USA home
Log In
2009 Transportation Bill

Senate Signals 6-Month Delay for Transport Bill — But Will the House Agree?

The Senate is leaning towards abandoning the Obama administration's push for an 18-month delay of the next long-term transportation bill and now plans to pursue a six-month extension of existing federal infrastructure law, according to a report from CQ this afternoon:

0131mnfederal_dd_graphic_oberstar.jpgRep. Jim Oberstar (D-MN) (Photo: Capitol Chatter)

An industry
official said the senators realized they would have trouble moving the
administration-backed 18-month extension, so they acquiesced to a
shorter term bill. ...

A shorter extension would be a victory for
proponents of long-term transportation legislation such as the
six-year, $500 billion plan being pressed by House Transportation and
Infrastructure Chairman James L. Oberstar, D-Minn.

But would Oberstar be inclined to see a six-month delay as a victory? Oberstar and his top transportation lieutenant, Rep. Pete DeFazio (D-OR), have warned that a series of short-term delays in the next infrastructure law risks compromising U.S. economic recovery, and it's not clear that House members would go along with a six-month extension.

"At this point, we are sticking with the extension to the end of December that passed the House," Oberstar spokesman Jim Berard said in an interview.

One factor that may add a new wrinkle to the debate is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-CA) push for a fresh round of job-creation legislation, which has given Oberstar new momentum to pitch his long-term infrastructure bill as part of the overall stimulus effort.

Pelosi aligned with Oberstar's position on a new transportation bill earlier this year; if the Speaker keeps more extra infrastructure spending from the government's general fund in the economic stimulus mix, the House's opposition to a longer-term extension could ease somewhat. The puzzle remains how to pay for more federal transportation investment, given widespread resistance in Washington to raising the gas tax.

Should the Senate win passage of a six-month extension, the earliest possible deadline for Congress to take up Oberstar's six-year bill -- which provides about $100 billion for transit and $337 billion for highways -- would be the end of April. The 2005 infrastructure law, however, is operating under a one-month extension that expires at the end of this month, meaning that lawmakers may have to push it forward for one more month before reaching a final deal.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog USA

Talking Headways Podcast: Have Cities Run Out of Land?

Chris Redfearn of USC and Anthony Orlando of Cal Poly Pomona on why "pro-business" Texas housing markets are catching up to "pro-regulation" California and what it might mean for future city growth.

July 25, 2024

The Paris Plan for Olympic Traffic? Build More Bike Lanes

A push to make Paris fully bikable for the Olympics is already paying dividends long before the opening ceremonies.

July 25, 2024

Thursday’s Headlines Face Our Fears

What happens if Republicans win the trifecta in November? Judging by the GOP-controlled House budget, a lot less money for transit, Smart Cities Dive reports.

July 25, 2024

N.Y. Gov Must Put Up or Shut Up on Congestion Pricing, New Senate Transportation Chair Says

Gov. Hochul must produce a "100-day plan" to replace the $16.5 billion MTA funding shortfall created by her decision to cancel congestion pricing.

July 24, 2024

Wednesday’s Headlines Are in a Good Place

How should we react to public indifference about the danger cars pose to society? Perhaps a sitcom has something to teach us.

July 24, 2024
See all posts