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Sec. LaHood proposes 18-month extension of current transportation bill

This morning on Capitol Hill, DOT Secretary Ray LaHood proposed an 18-month extension of the current SAFETEA-LU transportation authorization bill. Beyond simply extending the current bill, LaHood indicated that he wants to include some reforms in the 18-month extension — including a focus on metro areas, extensive cost-benefit analysis, and a commitment to “livable communities” — but was short on other specifics.

No word yet on how this will affect the proposed transportation bill outline to be released by Rep. James Oberstar tomorrow morning. Be sure to check back over the next few days for the latest.

From the DOT press room:

“This morning, I went to Capitol Hill to brief members of Congress on the situation with the Highway Trust Fund. I am proposing an immediate 18-month highway reauthorization that will replenish the Highway Trust Fund. If this step is not taken the trust fund will run out of money as soon as late August and states will be in danger of losing the vital transportation funding they need and expect.

“As part of this, I am proposing that we enact critical reforms to help us make better investment decisions with cost-benefit analysis, focus on more investments in metropolitan areas and promote the concept of livability to more closely link home and work. The Administration opposes a gas tax increase during this challenging, recessionary period, which has hit consumers and businesses hard across our country.

“I recognize that there will be concerns raised about this approach. However, with the reality of our fiscal environment and the critical demand to address our infrastructure investments in a smarter, more focused approach, we should not rush legislation. We should work together on a full reauthorization that best meets the demands of the country. The first step is making sure that the Highway Trust Fund is solvent. The next step is addressing our transportation priorities over the long term.”

UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal has a story up covering LaHood’s proposal, and includes a quote from Rep. Oberstar, responding to the idea of an extension:

In a meeting with reporters Wednesday, Mr. Oberstar was adamant that Congress must pass a new law before the current one expires.

“Extension of current law is unacceptable,” Mr. Oberstar said. “Now is the time to move.”

UPDATE 2: Michael Cooper of the New York Times covers the proposed extension, and gets a statement from Jim Berard, spokesman for Rep. Oberstar. “The chairman is not too pleased with the administration’s proposal,” he said.

No Comments

  1. Robert

    15 years ago

    The consolidation of the hundreds of transportation programs in MAP-21 is reason enough to pass a new bill and not extend the current one. This has to be slimmed down.