Short-Term Extension Must Lead to a Long-Term Highway Bill

Mar 30, 2012

The on-going saga of the highway bill continued yesterday when Congress passed a 90-day extension that the President signed.

This prevented a shutdown in construction projects across the country, but passing short-term extensions stops state and local governments and construction firms from planning for the construction season. Earlier this week, Bloomberg reported:

Short-term extensions don’t allow the kind of planning required for cities to plan construction projects, and Fresno, California already has a backlog of projects that can’t be put out for bid because of the uncertainty, Mayor Ashley Swearengin, a Republican, said.

The Chamber's Janet Kavinoky told Dow Jones, "There's no length of extension that's adequate for the construction industry or its workers to have some real clarification or certainty going forward.”

This extension needs to lead to a long-term bill. Resorting to additional extensions is tantamount to running the Highway Trust Fund into the ground and ignoring the federal responsibility for interstate commerce.

In a letter to Congress earlier this week, the Chamber’s Executive Vice President for Governmental Affairs Bruce Josten wrote, “America needs a highway and transit bill that can pass both the House and Senate and be signed by the President.  Inaction is not an option.” He called for the House of Representatives to pass a bill as soon as they return from Easter recess.

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