Despite passing the U.S. Senate by a bipartisan 74-22 vote earlier this month, legislation reauthorizing how our nation’s highway and transit programs are funded stalled this week in the U.S. House. Rather than vote on the Senate’s package, known as MAP-21 (“Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century,” a good summary of which can be found here), the House temporarily extended the existing law, known as SAFETEA-LU, another 90 days yesterday, ostensibly to give itself more time to get its proverbial ducks in a row on a long-term bill. The Senate quickly passed the temporary extension as well, and President Obama is expected to sign it into law immediately. Assuming that occurs, it will be the ninth time SAFETEA-LU has been extended since its expiration on September 30, 2009. ENR’s coverage of this week’s events can be found here.
The previous extension of SAFETEA-LU was due to expire at midnight tomorrow, which would have thrown prosecution of existing highway and transit work into utter disarray and cost scores of construction workers their jobs. From that standpoint, a 90-day stopgap measure is certainly better than no action at all.
But this is no way to invest in our nation’s surface transportation needs.