On March 30, 2012, the GOP-controlled House of Representatives finally approved a 90-day extension that will continue a program that provides federal funds to transportation projects across the nation. Without any action, the funnel of federal money would have ended at close of business March 31, with a devastating impact on those projects.
Nearly everyone agrees that these infrastructure projects – the building of bridges, repair of roads, and the like — are necessary to maintain the nation’s competitiveness, to continue to ensure road safety, and to help the economy recover. The Senate passed a two-year, $109 billion extension in a bipartisan 74-22 vote in mid-March.
But House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) had attempted to tie the extension to increased revenues from U.S. energy production rather than to the revenues from the gasoline tax, which are the source of the funds but are declining. His approach was not popular either among Democrats or among many Tea Party Republicans.
Finally, with the March 31 deadline imminent, all sides agreed on the 90-day stopgap extension, which is the ninth consecutive short-term extension.
However, to those of us who want to see more major construction projects getting done across America, this short-term extension is certainly better than nothing, and the word is that when Congress returns from its spring recess, the two-year extension will be ready to be considered again. This is good news, and perhaps the House will put politics aside and approve an extension of two years, or longer.