The House passed and sent to the Senate a measure that would extend the current highway program until the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30. The Senate cleared the measure yesterday and sent it to President Obama, who is expected to sign it.

This is the seventh short-term extension of the program since it officially expired in September 2009.

"The uncertainty created by the lack of a multi-year federal commitment to improving America's highway and public transportation facilities will contribute to a slowdown in transportation development activity in many states," said John Horsley, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, in a letter to Congress this week.

The Obama administration has offered what LaHood described as a "bold" six-year reauthorization plan that envisions increased spending on infrastructure and passenger rail, consolidation of federal transportation programs and creation of a $30 billion National Infrastructure Bank.

The administration has not yet said, however, how it plans to pay the $556 billion tab - a 60 percent increase over the last reauthorization. Absent a fuel tax increase or some other funding source, the Highway Trust Fund will not cover it.

For more on this issue, see "Action Urgently Needed on Highway Program, Says ATA's Graves."