Congress has let the federal highway program lapse. This means that starting today, states, transit agencies and localities will not be able to be reimbursed by MDOT.
The third in a series of short-term extensions of the federal surface transportation programs Congress has enacted since October expired last night and with it went the authority for new expenditures from the Highway Trust Fund. Both the House and Senate attempted to move bills last week that would have maintained the continuity of highway and transit funds, but a variety of factors precluded enactment of these measures.
After months of discussion, the Senate February 24 overcame Republican objections and passed the first in a series of bills intended to promote job creation. The “Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment” (HIRE) Act included provisions that would extend the authorization of the federal highway and transit programs through December and strengthen the Highway Trust Fund so it can fully fund these programs in 2010. Due to a variety of concerns from House members, largely unrelated to the transportation components of the bill, the chamber has delayed consideration of the bill until this week.
House and Senate Democratic leaders also attempted to pass a 30-day extension of the surface transportation programs along with extending unemployment insurance and health benefits. This measure passed the House, but was blocked in the Senate by Senator Jim Bunning (R-Ky.).
As a result of the inability to enact either of these measures, Federal Highway Administration employees will be furloughed beginning March 1.
ARTBA is continuing to urge all members of Congress to support prompt enactment of a long-term extension of the federal highway and public transportation programs that also ensures the Highway Trust Fund can meet its commitments for FY 2010. We will keep you apprised as this situation continues to evolve.
Please feel free to contact Mike Nystrom at firstname.lastname@example.org or Keith Ledbetter at email@example.com or call the MITA office at 517-347-8336 with any questions or comments.