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DOT funding could be halted

Federal transportation funding will expire this weekend after a Kentucky senator blocked passage of bill that would have extended appropriations through March.

Republican Sen. Jim Bunning said he was against it because it would add to the federal deficit. “There are going to be other bills brought to this floor that are not going to be paid for, and I’m going to object every time they do it,” he said

House Transportation Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn.) said because the bill did not pass before the expiration deadline, reimbursement to states for federal highway funds would end Feb. 28.

The bill’s failure may also force furloughs for 4,000 Department of Transportation employees.
Oberstar also announced that House leaders have agreed on a contentious highway funding issue found in a Senate jobs bill, which may clear the way for a new extension of the surface transportation law.

The Senate-passed jobs bill pending in the House would extend the long-term federal funding bill through the end of 2010. That may come up for a vote in the House early this week, and it is possible DOT employees would not be furloughed if there is assurance that enactment of a funding bill is imminent.

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