The ranking member of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee said it was highly unlikely Congress would pass a multi-year highway re-authorization bill during this calendar year.
Rep. John L. Mica (R-Fla.) told a transport and infrastructure conference in Washington, D.C., on Thursday that it would be 2011 at the earliest before lawmakers act on a long-term re-authorization of the current highway program. If Mica's comments prove to be true, Congress will need to continue to issue a series of short-term resolutions to ensure that the highway trust fund used to finance surface transport projects lasts through the rest of the year.
The highway program, known as the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act—A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), has been surviving since September on a series of 30-day extensions. The latest extension expires on March 28. At some point, Congress is expected to re-authorize the program for the rest of the calendar year.
Congress had failed to extend the program beyond the last expiration date of Feb. 28 after Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) blocked consideration of a $15 billion jobs bill that contained language authorizing a short-term extension. That impasse was broken on March 4.