Ryan Says Congress Likely to Need Budget Extension; Could Delay Oct. 1 FAST Act Increases

House Speaker Paul Ryan says Congress will probably need to pass a continuing resolution, which would extend 2017 infrastructure funding levels, in order for the Senate to process the necessary appropriations bill

AASHTO Journal

Amid speculation on how much Congress can accomplish when it returns from summer recess before the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year,  House Speaker Paul Ryan said "we're going to need more time to complete our appropriations process, particularly in the Senate. So that's something that I think we all recognize and understand, that we're going to have to have some more time to complete our appropriations process."

Politico reported that he was specifically asked if that meant Congress would need to pass a continuing resolution, which would extend 2017 funding to whenever lawmakers can negotiate and pass a final 2018 appropriations package. "I think that will probably be necessary, yes, because I can't imagine the Senate will be able to process the appropriations bill as quickly as the House is," Ryan said.

That scenario could leave state departments of transportation drawing their Highway Trust Fund formula allocations at past-year levels, but prevent them receiving scheduled increases at a time that many are drawing up their project plans and bid schedules for the coming year.

Lawmakers in the five-year, 2015 Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act had both authorized and fully funded annual increases in disbursements to state DOTs for highway programs. However, Congress must also approve the yearly hikes in appropriations bills for the Department of Transportation, and so far has not passed one for the coming fiscal 2018.

(more on FAST funding delays in Congress . . . )