Friday, October 23, 2009

SAFTEA-LU Reauthorization Update

Thanks to WSDOT for passing on this update on the SAFTEA-LU Reauthorization. Learn more about federal funding on their blog:

Reports are sketchy but apparently on Wednesday some Senators attempted, unsuccessfully, a legislative maneuver to pass an 18-month extension of SAFETEA-LU. “Hotlining” is a process in which Senators are asked if they would object to taking up a bill and passing it without debate or amendment. If so much as one Senator objects, the legislation must be scheduled for a floor debate and vote. It’s a process often used for non-controversial bills, and sometimes used to flush out potential objections and amendments.

At least one Senator objected, almost certainly Senator George Voinovich (R-Ohio), who supports a shorter extension (e.g., 12-month). Voinovich is retiring in November 2010, and may want the shorter extension so that he can influence the longer-term bill and funding for Ohio projects.

It’s possible the Senate could debate the bill next week (Oct 26-30). But there would likely be filibusters from Voinovich and others, and it’s unclear if the Senate could pass the bill next week. At any rate, it’s hard to see how a final extension bill could be negotiated by the House and Senate and sent to the President by November 1, unless there’s a last minute agreement on a shorter-term extension.

Best guess at this point is we get another one-month extension, along with a one-month extension of 2010 transportation appropriations spending.

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