Congress adjourned last Thursday after passing a short term 2011 appropriations bill (CR) good through December 3rd. Transportation earmarks were not included in the bill, but are expected to be in the final bill when it passes. Read the summary and text of the legislation.

Congress will reconvene, probably during the week of November 15th. The elections outcome will influence what, if any, legislation passes and how long the session lasts.

Depending on the elections outcome the next 2011 spending bill may extend into early next year, and Congress could rewrite the bill. Or Congress could pass a bill lasting the rest of the fiscal year.

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:
Congress passed and the President signed legislation funding USDOT and other federal agencies through December 3rd.   Last July the full Senate Appropriations Committee approved a FY 2011 spending bill. 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.

Aviation Authorization:
Congress passed and the President signed legislation extending FAA programs through December 31st.  Both chambers have passed legislation; House and Senate negotiators have been trying to reach an agreement. The FAA has been operating under a series of short-term extensions since the authorization bill expired at the end of fiscal 2007.  The current extension is the 16th.

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:
President Obama announced he intends to put the full weight of the Presidency behind climate change legislation in 2011. He'll pursue legislation in "chunks" instead of one big bill as was pursued in 2010. 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 10/04/2010 05:00:00 AM by Larry Ehl |

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