House Approves Highway Program Extension and FY 11 Funding

December 10, 2010
On Wednesday, the House passed (212-206) a nearly $1.1 trillion continuing resolution (CR) funding the federal government for the remainder of this fiscal year (until Sept. 30, 2011). The measure would also extend for nine months -- from Jan. 1 to Sept. 30 -- authorization for federal highway, mass transit, and aviation programs. The CR was approved by the House without the support of a single Republican because they seek to slash federal spending back to FY 2008 levels. The legislation now heads to the Senate, where it is expected Democrats will attempt to replace the CR with an omnibus appropriations bill that would include all 12 appropriations bills, as well as earmarks, which the House-passed CR does not include.  At this point it is unclear if Senate Democrats have the 60 votes necessary to overcome a likely Republican filibuster to replace the CR with the omnibus. The House CR extends all Highway Trust Fund programs through the end of FY 2011 at FY 2010 levels.  Specifically, the CR would provide $41.1 billion for highways and $10.7 billion for transit.  AGC has learned that the Senate is likely to concur with the 9 month authorization extension regardless of whether it is through a CR or an omnibus. AGC and other transportation stakeholders have been advocating for a nine month extension to provide the transportation construction industry a degree of certainty for the 2011 construction season and to allow sufficient time for the new Congress to take action on a multi-year transportation reauthorization measure. The House legislation cuts high-speed-rail funding by $1.5 billion (from $2.5 billion last fiscal year to $1 billion this fiscal year) and rescinds numerous highway projects contained in prior authorization bills that have either not been obligated or were authorized in SAFETEA-LU and 10% of the project funding has not yet been spent. Federal Aviation Administration policies and programs would also be extended by nine months as part of the continuing resolution. The Airport Improvement Program (AIP) is funded at $3.5 billion. The House and Senate have been unable for the past three years to agree on a long-term authorization measure for aviation programs. This would be the 17th temporary extension of aviation programs since the September 2007 expiration of the last long-term FAA bill.
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