The U.S. House of Representatives approved by a 359-to-57 vote on September 22 a Continuing Resolution (CR) for FY2021 that would fund federal government programs beginning October 1 through December 11. Key for state departments of transportation is an extension of current surface transportation funding legislation – the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation or FAST Act.
Analysis by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials indicates the FAST Act extension within the CR provides:
- An obligation limitation through December 11, estimated to be $9.1 billion for the Federal-aid Highway Program
- An extension of FAST Act funding and provisions from FY 2020 to all of FY 2021, including contract authority formula apportionments to states
- A $10.4 billion general fund transfer to the HTF’s Highway Account and a $3.2 billion transfer to the Mass Transit Account
- A $14 billion general fund transfer to the Airport and Airway Trust Fund, making up for the aviation excise tax holiday included in the $2 trillion CARES Act passed in March
“While we had hoped to reach an agreement between the House and the Senate this year on a modern, multi-year surface transportation bill that moves our country forward, the single most important factor right now is providing certainty to states and local governments that are under the strain of both the pandemic and the resulting economic downturn,” said the Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Peter DeFazio (D-OR). “With this one-year extension in place, we can continue work on a long-term, transformational bill that significantly boosts investment in our surface transportation network and moves our transportation systems into the 21st century.”
“This full-year extension of expiring surface transportation programs will provide immediate, desperately needed certainty to state DOTs and transportation and construction industry workers across the country,” said Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO). “As many stakeholders continue to navigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring that states are capable of planning and executing infrastructure projects and preventing any disruptions to the 2021 construction season will keep Americans on the job rebuilding our infrastructure.”
Govexec.com reports the Senate is expected to send the measure to President Trump for his signature in the coming days. Even with the deal to fund agencies through December, another stopgap measure could become necessary if the lame duck Congress decides to punt on line-by-line funding measures in the weeks immediately following the election. The House has passed 10 of the 12 annual spending bills, but those were agreed to largely without Republican support. The Senate has yet to approve any of its bills, even at the committee level.