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Lack of extension bill will cut transportation program by 30 percent

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As states push to create jobs and improve highways through the economic stimulus program, inaction on an extension of the highway and transit authorization is likely to reduce federal funding by $12 billion in FY2010, according to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). That would reduce the program by almost 30 percent.

"It’s shocking that just as we see the glimmer of recovery, the Congress may pull back $12 billion in vitally needed highway, transit, and safety funds by failing to enact an extension of the expiring highway and transit program," said John Horsley, AASHTO executive director.

Only two legislative days remain before the current program expires on September 30. A one-month stop-gap continuation has been included in the pending continuing resolution. However, without a separate extension bill, budget rules will require that the FY 2010 federal-aid highway, highway safety, motor carrier, and transit programs be cut by $12.1 billion, $11.9 billion of which will come from the highway program.

While the House passed a three-month extension last Wednesday, as of Friday, Sept. 25, the Senate had yet to schedule the bill for the floor. Senate transportation leaders are focusing efforts on an 18-month extension favored by the Obama Administration. With no hint of a compromise, and the threat of a possible filibuster, action in the Senate is at a standstill.

"What Congress gave with one hand, they may soon be taking away with the other," said Horsley. "The $12 billion reduction will wipe out any gains from the second year of stimulus funding before we even begin. We strongly urge Congress to resolve this in the short time that remains."