Surface Transportation and Aviation Programs Extended

Posted on: September 20th, 2011 by Deborah Cox

On September 13, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a combined extension of surface transportation programs and aviation programs.  H.R. 2887 provides for a six month extension of highway programs (until March 31, 2012) and a four and a half month extension of aviation programs (until January 31, 2012).  The latest extension of highway programs was set to expire on September 30 and the latest extension of aviation programs was set to expire at midnight on September 16.

On September 15, the measure passed the Senate, clearing the bill for the President.  Opposition by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) almost prevented the bill from passing, which would have resulted in a FAA shutdown. Sen. Coburn objected to the transportation enhancements program in the bill and offered an amendment that would remove a mandate that states must spend some of their highway money on enhancements such as walking and bike paths.  Sen. Coburn eventually conceded, saying he was assured that the next multi-year highway bill will include his language allowing states to opt out of the mandate.  Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) amendment to the measure to lower Highway Trust Fund spending levels was rejected.

These latest extensions will give authorizers additional time needed to continue to work through differences on the long term authorizations for these programs.

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