Budget Pressure Could Squeeze Transport Bill Down to Two Years

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said "funding challenges" could downgrade the preferred six-year highway and transit construction program to a two-year, $109 billion bill setting funding at existing levels plus inflation. The bulk, if not all, of the funding for such a bill would come from the federal gasoline tax. Lawmakers would still need to plug a $12 billion shortfall under the two-year bill, because gas-tax revenue is falling.

"We are hoping for a six-year bill. We may not wind up with a six-year bill," Boxer said in a media briefing. It was the first time Boxer has conceded that Congress may have to pass a bill covering less than six years at existing funding levels.

(More on transportation reauthorization . . . )