By Dean Franks, vice president of congressional affairs, ARTBA

The House of Representatives is expected to vote as soon as tonight (Nov. 16) on a short-term extension of highway and transit programs.  The extension, the fifth of the 2012 MAP-21 surface transportation law, is proposed to last until Dec. 4.  The two-week bill attempts to give senators and representatives enough time to negotiate the final compromises from separate surface transportation bills passed in their respective chambers earlier this year.

“The House and Senate are making good progress in resolving differences between their respective multi-year surface transportation reauthorization proposals,” said House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.). “The conference committee needs the time necessary to meet in public, complete negotiations, and produce a final measure that helps improve America’s infrastructure.  This clean extension provides time for that process to occur and for the House and Senate to vote on the final legislation, without shutting down transportation programs and projects in the meantime.”

The extension is expected to pass in both the House and Senate with little fanfare.

Conferees are scheduled to meet for the first, and possibly last, time in public Nov.18.  While this meeting is largely expected to be ceremonial in nature, each member will get a chance to express where they are on the various policy matters in the House and Senate surface transportation bills.  The meat of the negotiations will continue to take place behind the scenes, however, where decisions have yet to be made on important issues like programmatic funding levels and how many years the final bill will run.

We will continue to keep ARTBA members apprised of the latest developments from Washington.