House passes short-term funding legislation

The Senate is expected to replicate the action of House members, who passed a three-day funding bill Dec. 17 to avoid a government shutdown.

Federal appropriations expired at midnight Dec. 18 and the House will not meet again Dec. 21.

On Dec. 8, House members voted 212-206 in favor of H.R. 3082, a bill continuing appropriations for fiscal year 2011. The Senate has received the bill, which funds government operations and extends authorizations for federal surface transportation and aviation programs through Sept. 30.

The bill would require the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration report to Congress on March 30 and Sept. 30 on the agency’s ability to meet its requirement to conduct compliance reviews on high-risk carriers.

It also mandates the transportation secretary report annually to the House and Senate Appropriations committees on the safety and security of transportation into the United States by Mexico-domiciled motor carriers.

Federal officials have said little recently regarding negotiations to resume cross-border trucking with Mexico. After Congress voted to discontinue program funding in March 2009, Mexico implemented retaliatory tariffs, which are applied to 99 different U.S. goods.

During a Dec. 1 media conference call, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said he would meet with his Mexican counterpart, and they would continue encouraging U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to resolve the issue.

“My hope and belief is that this gets resolved sooner rather than later, and we will do everything we can to facilitate that resolution, but it is not something that I directly have control over,” Vilsack said. “We are just simply encouraging the transportation folks to iron out whatever details need to be ironed out to get this thing done.”

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