Senators Boxer and Inhofe are preparing to hotline a six-month extension of the federal surface transportation programs, which would provide funding at gross FY2009 levels, with an additional $8.7 billion in contract authority to replace the funds rescinded on September 30.
The bill would also extend funding for projects of national and regional significance (SAFETEA-LU 1301) and national corridor infrastructure (SAFETEA-LU 1302) according to 2009 receipts. House Transportation and Infrastructure chairman Jim Oberstar’s 3-month extension, which recently passed in the House, would allow USDOT to distribute the money as discretionary grants, and did not address the September rescission of contract authority. (See Transportation Reauthorization: House T&I Committee's 3-Month Extension Fails to Address $8.7 Billion Rescission).
Hotlining involves notifying all 100 Senate offices of the bill and checking to see if they have any objection to the legislation being considered and passed by unanimous consent at the close of the day’s business. Boxer and Inhofe hope to hotline the bill today Monday, October 26, if Oberstar can be convinced to accept the new legislation without amendment.
The six month extension will not require an infusion from the general fund into the Highway Trust Fund, which FHWA expects to remain solvent through the first eight months of FY2010. The bill would provide a total of $24.6 billion in highway formula contract authority.
Senator Voinovich, who had held back the previous 18-month extension bill on the grounds that it was too long, is trying to persuade Oberstar to accept the Senate’s offer as states begin to shut off contract bidding for lack of contract authority.
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