A bill to extend federal highway and transit programs through Dec. 3 is headed to President Joe Biden’s desk, as a long-term reauthorization remains tied up in negotiations over Democrats’ broader agenda.
The measure (H.R. 5763), which would push surface transportation programs’ expiration back to the day broader federal government funding runs out, passed in the House on a 358-59 vote. Senators agreed by unanimous consent to clear the extension for the president without further action when they receive it from the House.
The current surface transportation authorization expires after Oct. 31, so lawmakers needed to act before Nov. 1 to ensure funds keep flowing to state transportation departments and employees aren’t furloughed. A House vote on a Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill (H.R. 3684), which would reauthorize the programs for another five years, has been delayed as Democrats negotiate a separate tax and social spending bill (H.R. 5376).
Democratic leaders were originally aiming to pass the infrastructure bill Thursday, with House Transportation and Infrastructure Chair Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) urging lawmakers to vote for that bill before he introduced the extension. “Short-term extensions are highly disruptive to transportation project planning and delivery,” he wrote earlier in the day.
Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said he will “reluctantly” support the short-term extension, but called the recent multiple short-term extensions “extremely detrimental.”
Surface transportation programs are currently operating under a 30-day extension signed into law (Public Law 117-44) on Oct. 2. Last month, lawmakers didn’t act before the bill expired, which caused highway and transit programs to lapse briefly and 3,700 employees to be furloughed.
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