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?

3:23 PM EDT on October 23, 2009

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

Tuesday’s Headlines Look for a Home

The federal government could help families save money by providing more funding for housing near transit.

March 5, 2024

All The Ways That Cars Harm Our Communities (Well, Almost All…)

A new study seeks to quantify everything car culture costs us. Yet there are still more ways that auto-centrism hurts us all.

March 5, 2024

Understanding Car Culture ‘Denialism’ Can Help Safety Advocates Respond

Opponents of change sow confusion with fake experts, logical fallacies, impossible expectations (moving goalposts), conspiracy theories, and selectivity (cherry picking). We can fight back.

March 4, 2024

PROWAG Can Make Cities More Accessible — So Here’s What You Need to Know

America has waited more than 12 years for the Public Right-of-Way Accessibility Guidelines to be implemented. Here's why they matter.

March 4, 2024

Monday’s Headlines Don’t Throw Money at Roads

States are flush with cash from the bipartisan infrastructure bill, but they've opted to spend most of it on roads and bridges, and very little on transit.

March 4, 2024
See all posts