September 14, 2009
The classifieds in this issue include two chief executive officer positions!
Congress to Consider Authorization Extension
The future of the federal transportation authorization bill was just one of the items facing Congress as it reconvened Sept. 8.
Before Congress adjourned for the August recess, the House and Senate championed two different timelines for passing a new authorization bill. Rep. James L. Oberstar (D-MN), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, emphasized the bipartisan six-year bill introduced by the leaders of his committee. As part of setting federal transportation policy and spending limits for public transportation, highway, and bridge programs, the legislation increases funding for public transportation by 90 percent over the present funding levels, and includes many policy changes long-sought by the public transit industry.
However, the Obama Administration supports an 18-month extension of the existing transportation programs rather than immediate action on a new long-term bill, and key Senate committees have endorsed that approach. Both the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, the committees of jurisdiction for transit and highway programs, approved legislation in July to enact an 18-month extension.
The current law—the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act-A Legacy for Users—expires Sept. 30.
It must be either extended or entirely rewritten to continue federal spending on Federal Transit Administration and Federal Highway Administration programs.
In the coming weeks, House and Senate leaders are expected to discuss the length and other characteristics of an extension bill.