Two-Week Transportation Extension 'Auto-Signed' by President Obama
The Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2015, Part II, auto-signed on November 20, is the 36th extension since a six-year transportation bill, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) expired on September 30, 2009.
AASHTO Journal indicates that the bill authorizes the Highway Transportation Fund through December 4. "This is the last extension – let me put an exclamation point on that," said House Transportation Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.).
The House-Senate Conference Committee, convened after the House passed their six-year transportation reauthorization bill on November 5, will now need to complete its negotiations over differences between the House- and Senate-passed DRIVE Act, present it to both chambers which must agree on a final version before the extension expires—not leaving much leeway.
If the conference committee's schedule slips as members negotiate, the panel would need to file a final report no later than Dec. 2 to avoid yet another extension past Dec. 4. House procedures require that members have 48 hours to view legislation before voting on it.
While the final bill will be the first six-year transportation since 2005, it will only have funding for three years.
"The Congressional Budget Office has estimated it will take about $100 billion, in addition to the annual gas tax revenue, to pay for a six-year transportation funding bill," writes Keith Laing in his article on the auto-signing of the transportation extension.