Reauthorization Conference Not Finished; New Extension Deadline of July 19 Set House to Vote on DOT FY 2006 Appropriations Bill Today
House and Senate Conferees on the Highway, Transit, and Highway Safety Reauthorization bill failed to complete negotiations on a final bill by the deadline of June 30 as specified in the last TEA-21 extension bill necessitating yet another extension (the eighth one since September 2003.) The House and Senate are expected to pass (and hopefully the President will sign) another extension bill today that would set a new deadline of July 19.
Unresolved issues remain that relate to formula apportionment and earmarking of highway construction funds to the states as well as the transit portion of the bill. While progress is reportedly being made on motor carrier safety issues, details of any agreements reached are not yet known. We will advise you when we learn any definitive information on what has been agreed to. It is likely we will not know all of the details until the Conference has actually been completed.
On a more positive note, today the House is expected to pass the Appropriations bill funding DOT programs for Fiscal Year 2006. It funds state motor carrier safety programs at increased levels that have been established in the House passed Reauthorization bill. The fact that the Appropriations Committee expects the Reauthorization bill to pass is a positive sign.
The overall level of funding for state motor carrier safety programs is set at $286,000,000. That is $97,520,000 higher than in FY 2005. This would take MCSAP core state grant programs from $133 million to at least $152 million and also would include funding for new entrant, CDL, border, PRISM, Safety Data, CDLIS Modernization, and CVISN state grant programs.
The Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to take up the DOT FY 2006 spending bill the second week in July.
If the Reauthorization passes by the new deadline of July 19 and the House and Senate DOT Appropriations bills pass by the end of July (or by Sept. 30,) for the first time in several years, we will go into a new fiscal year starting October 1 actually knowing the full amount of funding available to the states for the entire year. (Light an extra candle—a Roman candle or firecracker will do—and hope that all of this comes to pass!)