President Trump signed a continuing resolution that avoided a government shutdown and extended the current transportation funding program.
The CR funds federal government programs Oct. 1 (the beginning of fiscal year 2021) through Dec. 11 and extends current surface transportation funding reauthorization for a full fiscal year.
The House passed its CR, which included a one-year extension of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation, or FAST Act, on Sept. 22 by a vote of 359 to 57, with one member voting present. It cleared the Senate late on Sept. 30 by a vote of 84 to 10.
The FAST Act extension includes an additional $13.6 billion added to the Highway Trust Fund.
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said in a statement, “A full one-year extension of highway funding provides states and communities the certainty required to plan for critical road and bridge projects.”
The additional $13.6 billion infusion from the general fund will put $10.4 billion into the trust fund’s highway account and $3.2 billion for the transit account.
However, Engineering News Record reports, “the full-year extension applies to federal highway contract authority. But the underlying CR limits highway obligation authority—the amount of actual spending—to a 72-day, pro-rated share of a full year’s funding.” A full-year appropriations bill will still need to get through Congress in a lame-duck session.
The House and Senate have been far apart on efforts to put a new long-term infrastructure program into place.
The House, controlled by the Democratic Party, passed a massive bill in June that would have put in place many environmentally friendly “green” policies. The Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America (INVEST in America) Act called for nearly $500 billion over five years to address infrastructure needs. The bill drew swift reaction from House Republicans and other critics saying a more bipartisan approach is needed.
The Senate passed its bipartisan version of an infrastructure bill a year earlier. America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act of 2019 was billed by its four sponsors as “the largest highway legislation in history.” That bill would authorize $287 billion over five years.