Biden signs Surface Transportation Extension Act

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On Friday, President Joe Biden signed the Surface Transportation Extension Act, which would extend funding for the U.S. Department of Transportation’s surface transportation programs through Oct. 31, into law.

Passed by the U.S. House of Representative on Oct. 1, the act would provide a 30-day extension of the authorization of current surface transportation programs. Those authorizations fund projects to maintain or improve certain highways, bridges, tunnels and transit.

The House vote for the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, was delayed, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said, because of ongoing negotiations over a $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill. The extension would continue to pay for infrastructure programs despite the existing Surface Transportation Act expiring on Sept. 30, 2021.

“There is an October 31st Surface Transportation Authorization deadline, after last night’s passage of a critical 30-day extension. We must pass Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework well before then — the sooner the better, to get the jobs out there,” Pelosi wrote in an Oct. 2 letter to her Democratic colleagues.

U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, said the bill will save jobs.

“Today’s extension protects thousands of Department of Transportation employees and will keep important projects on schedule,” DeFazio said. “Now we will continue our work to pass the Build Back Better agenda into law, including a historic investment in America’s infrastructure.”

But the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) urged Congress to act on the larger infrastructure bill.

“While AASHTO appreciates addressing the lapse in federal highway, transit and highway safety programs caused by the failure to pass the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, short-term extensions are not a suitable way to govern,” Jim Tymon, AASHTO executive director, said. “This particular extension doesn’t include any new funding for state departments of transportation until October 15, leaving them without support from their federal partners for weeks while they continue the work of moving people and goods through our communities. AASHTO remains focused on the passage of a long-term surface transportation bill to ensure the delivery of a safe and efficient multimodal transportation system and we urge Congress to do the same.”