U.S. highway funding bill remains stalled

Sept. 22, 2004 at 6:04 PM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 22 (UPI) -- A bipartisan effort in the Senate to extend federal highway spending for six months has raised the specter of a stalled six-year bill.

The six-month proposal from Senate Environment and Public Works Transportation Subcommittee Chairman Christopher Bond, R-Mo., and ranking member Harry Reid, D-Nev., would provide $17.45 billion in highway funds during the period. It is needed because the current extension of federal highway funding expires Friday, with transit and safety spending expiring at the end of the month.

Lawmakers have been unable to reach a compromise between the House and Senate versions of a six-year bill to fund the federal government's highway construction spending. Both versions are more expensive than the $254 billion price tag wanted by the White House.

Although a proposal from House leaders would fund the bill at $299 billion, Senate Democrats and some Republicans contend anything less than the Senate-approved level of $318 billion is not sufficient.

Bond and Reid also have the support of Environment and Public Works ranking member James Jeffords, I-Vt, but Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, R-Ill, opposes the extension, which spells trouble for its prospects.

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