Rep. Sam Rayburn
Late last week USDOT announced it would release detailed proposals for a surface transportation authorization bill in February, when the Administration's FY 2012 budget proposal is released.

In Congress This Week:
Congress' focus this week will be crafting and a passing s short term appropriations bill to fund government operations through mid Novebmer or December. Congress will return then, and presumably pass an appropriations bill for the remainder of FY 2011 (which begins October 1.)

The Senate will debate a jobs bill, but it does not include transportation funds.

Last week Congress extended the Federal Aviation Authorization bill through December. The previous bill expired in 2007.

Congress is unlikely to pass any majors bills before adjourning later this week or next.

Hearings This Week:
9/29: "Local Impact of Recovery Act Projects," House Transportation Committee (local note: Community Transit is testifying).

Status Reports:
Surface Transportation Authorization:
SAFETEA-LU is extended through December 31, 2010, through the H.I.R.E. Act (HR 2847). The legislation restores funding rescissions enacted at the end of FY 2009, and provides the authorized funding level for 2010. The Senate EPW staff are drafting their version of an authorization bill, while the House released its draft bill in 2009. USDOT will release its authorization proposal in February. President Obama recently announced a $50B "front loaded" proposal.

Appropriations:
The full Senate Appropriations Committee approved a FY 2011 spending bill in late July. Senators Murray and Cantwell designated WA projects for funding. The full House approved a FY 2011 spending bill (HR 5850) in late July. It contained significantly fewer earmarks that past approps bills, including the fewest number for WA state in over a decade.

It's unlikely that Congress will pass a transportation appropriations bills before October 1st (the beginning of a new federal fiscal year). That would result in a continuing resolution (short-term funding & spending bill) through November or December, or perhaps early 2011.

Aviation Authorization:
Both chambers have passed legislation; conferees have not been named though House and Senate negotiators have been trying to reach an agreement in advance of a formal conference. The FAA has been operating under a series of short-term extensions since the authorization bill expired at the end of fiscal 2007.

Jobs bill:
Congress enacted an extension of unemployment benefits in July, and continues to work on various and scaled-down jobs/economic stimulus legislation. It is unlikely that any of those bills will include transportation programs.

Climate Change:
The House passed a comprehensive energy and climate bill in June 2009. Similar legislation remains stalled in the Senate over opposition from Republicans and a handful of Democrats. Prospects for passage this year are slim. Congress may again vote on delaying the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions for two years. Previous votes to delay the authority have failed.

Posted On 9/27/2010 11:17:00 AM by Larry Ehl |

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