SAFETEA-LU will be renewed for six months under a Senate-House agreement reached late Friday. Congress will likely vote on the deal within the week. See Deal would Prevent USDOT Shut Down for details.
In addition to three great aspects of the proposed extension, there are three concerning elements:
1. The Highway Trust Fund’s march toward insolvency is continued by funding USDOT at the current level. The Fund is projected to be unable to meet current spending levels early in 2013.
2. Will Congressional conservatives and debt-hawks support the extension? Will anti-tax activist groups urge opposition to the deal? The funding level conflicts with the House’s significantly lower 2012 proposed spending level for transportation. House Speaker Boehner has approved the agreement, and it will be interesting to see how his more conservative members will react to a deal that renews programs without cutting spending. To date, Republicans have insisted on spending cuts to temporary extensions of programs.
3. What will the final full year 2012 funding level be? Will the last six months be funding at current levels, or at significantly reduced levels to create an overall lower 2012 funding level?
Here’s a link to the draft highway extension bill.
Larry Ehl is the founder and publisher of Transportation Issues Daily. In the public sector, Larry was Federal Relations Manager for Washington State DOT; Chief of Staff to US Senator Slade Gorton; and was twice elected to the Edmonds School Board.