(Billings, MT – YPR) – A leading member of the Congressional conference committee working on a transportation reauthorization bill doubts the panel will craft a full reauthorization bill by the June 30th deadline.
“Not this time,” says Senator Max Baucus (D-MT). “I don’t think there’s enough time in Congress. Believe it or not there’s not that many legislative days before Congress adjourns in October. But we’ve set it up so we have more than enough time next year to do a full reauthorization as a full 5 year bill.”
The current legislation expired in 2009.
Baucus (D-MT) chairs the Senate Finance Committee and the Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure. He’s a ranking member of the conference committee tasked with finding common ground on a transportation bill before the current extension runs out at the end of June.
“I think everyone realizes that we’ve got to pass a highway bill and we’ll get it done,” says Baucus.
Baucus invited ambassadors from 5 foreign countries to visit several Montana communities this week to talk about trade opportunities.
He says the transportation conference committee is still working on issues, like the Keystone X-L pipeline. Some members of Congress want this and other projects inserted into the transportation bill. The original Keystone X-L project sought to build a 1,179 mile pipeline from the Tar Sand Fields in Alberta, Canada to refineries along the U-S Gulf Coast.
“Having said that, the main point is that we are close to figuring out how to pay for the highway bill so we can extend it until next September,” Baucus says. “Hopefully for a little bit longer than that but at least to next September.” (September 2013)
Baucus says Congress knows businessmen, highway contractors and states are looking for more certainty when it comes to transportation funding.