BREAKING: GOP to Push 3-Month Transpo Bill Extension

Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - 12:17 PM

House Republicans, still adrift on how to reauthorize national highway funding legislation, will now push a 3-month extension to avoid a shutdown of transportation programs after March 31.

The fact the GOP would move a temporary extension next week was confirmed yesterday . A statement from House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) issued today specified it would be a 3-month bill.

“Tomorrow, I will introduce a short-term extension through June 30th to ensure continuity of current programs while I and House Republicans continue to work toward a responsible transportation bill that provides long-term certainty, reduces the size of government, eliminates earmarks, and is fully paid for. We continue to believe that linking energy and infrastructure is the responsible thing to do in order to meet our long-term needs,” the statement read.

Senate Democrats are busy talking tough while leaning on the House to instead take up the 2-year $109 billion bill the Senate passed with 74 votes last week. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood joined a group of Senate Democrats Wednesday to goad House Republicans to avoid the very thing Mica says they'll do.

"We're going to continue the drumbeat. No extension," LaHood said. He called an extension the "death knell" of the Highway Trust Fund and the jobs that rely on it. The highway bill has been temporarily reauthorized eight times since 2009.

The House GOP's decision to spurn the Senate bill, at least for now, leaves open the possibility of a standoff that could lead to a shutdown. Sen. Harry Reid, the Majority Leader, said Tuesday he was "not inclined" to approve a temporary extension in light of the Senate's broad bipartisan vote.

"I hope that we will force this issue" with the House, said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).

Asked in the same press conference whether Democrats would refuse to back a temporary Highway Bill extension, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), a member of the Democratic leadership, would not say they would.

"We think it's a very bad idea," he said.


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