No consensus yet on highway funding bill

Jill Dunn | June 11, 2012

Some transportation leaders are worried congressional conferees will not agree on long-term surface transportation appropriations before the current stop-gap funding bill expires June 30.

The Senate reconvenes June 11, but House members are off this week. The House-Senate Surface Transportation Reauthorization Conference Committee met June 7 after the beginning negotiations a month ago.

House transportation chairman John Mica (D-Fla.) reportedly has said he would have conference calls with Republican conferees during the House recess.

California Democrats Sen. Barbara Boxer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi criticized House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) statement that a six-month extension of current funding is possible.

Boxer, who also heads the public works committee, and House Minority Leader Pelosi said a delay that long would bankrupt the Highway Trust Fund and further hurt the construction sector, already harder hit than other industries by economic downturn.

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, American Highway Users Alliance, American Automobile Association and several construction organizations have voiced similar concerns.

The 47-member conference is trying to reach consensus as surface transportation programs are operating on the ninth short-term funding extension since the last omnibus funding bill expired in 2009.

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