The House passed another 90-day surface transportation extension (H.R. 4348) on Wednesday, which will be used as a vehicle to conference with the Senate-passed transportation bill, MAP-21 (S. 1813). The extension passed 293-127, with 69 Democrats joining 224 Republicans to support going to conference with the Senate.
The extension technically extends programs from July 1st until September 30th, but it also includes language to move forward on the Keystone XL pipeline and to provide continued funding for clean up of the Gulf of Mexico after the 2010 oil spill.
In addition, several amendments were adopted on the floor before the final vote, including environmental streamlining reforms, language to tie expenditures to revenues in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, and language to avoid EPA regulations for coal ash. ASCE supported passage of H.R. 4348 and is pleased to see that the legislation was supported by a bipartisan effort. ASCE was concerned that if the extension did not pass, action on surface transportation legislation would be pushed off until the next Congress.
Senate Democrats are now urging the House to quickly move to conference. Since the House bill is a stripped down package; many expect most of the language of any conference report to be drawn from the Senate bill, an issue that concerned some members of the House.
Next step? The House and Senate have to appoint their conferees. At this time Congress would have until June 30th to pass a compromise bill before the current surface transportation extension expires.