Last Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a year-long continuing resolution (CR) by a vote of 212-206. This CR would fund government-wide operations through FY2011, including an extension of the federal surface transportation program. This is both good news and bad news, assuming the U.S. Senate also approves it.
It is good news because:
- It provides funding for a year – no more three-month-at-a-time deadlines.
- Transportation agencies have some degree of certainty of the funding that will be available to them.
- It provides enough time to work through some difficult issues and allow for a long-term transportation funding proposal at the end of the one-year extension.
- It includes a nine-month extension of the current FAA authorization – this is the 17th extension of that expired authorization – 17th!
It is bad news because:
- While it includes $1 billion for high-speed rail improvements, this is $1.5 billion less than FY 2010.
- It includes $630 million in rescissions for previously authorized surface transportation projects – so we actually lose some dollars.
- It doesn’t include a $50 billion placeholder for President Obama’s “front-loaded” transportation authorization proposal – this proposal is D.E.A.D!
Let’s hope that this action, if approved by the Senate, will allow the new Congress to review the issues and find new ways of providing additional funding for needed projects. We are not making progress on this issue, just going around and around. One thing is for sure, nothing will get better by doing nothing!