A House Divided: Transportation Law Delayed, Yet Again

Deron Lovaas, Federal Transportation Policy Director, Washington, D.C.

It’s only Tuesday and already it’s another disappointing week for transportation law. The House GOP has shelved its 90-day extension due to – surprise! – inability to get the votes to pass it. A 60-day extension is in the offing now, with the vote slated for who knows when; they just pulled it back at the last minute, most likely due again to lack of votes.

Dearth of support for an extension may be due to burgeoning support for the bipartisan Senate bill, and a commonsense observation by streetsblog that every extension eats away at it. MAP-21 was cobbled together as a two-year bill in order to make ends meet without 1) substantial cuts or 2) generating more revenue through user fees (the federal gas tax hasn’t increased in 20 years). Interest in the Senate bill is growing, with a few brave Republicans breaking ranks openly yesterday by signing onto a letter favoring the Senate bill.

But extensions inevitably whittle it away, defeating one of its main purposes: Providing a degree of investment certainty for transportation agencies and contractors making plans for construction. Planning for spring construction season is all but passed now. In fact, it’s already started due to unusually warm temperatures.