Lawmakers are banking on the House to pass a major infrastructure bill Thursday that would reauthorize expiring surface transportation programs and avert thousands of furloughs and halted payments.
House Transportation and Infrastructure Chair
More than 2,500 Federal Highway Administration employees would be furloughed and federal highway programs “would cease” after Sept. 30 if the highway bill authorization expires, the Department of Transportation said in a contingency plan released Tuesday.
The Federal Transit Administration would also largely shut down absent a reauthorization or short-term extension. The agency, which doesn’t directly operate transit systems, would be unable to keep funds flowing to its state and local partners, the department said.
If both annual appropriations and surface transportation reauthorization lapse, more than 22,000 employees at the Department of Transportation would be furloughed, the agency said.
The Senate-passed infrastructure measure (
Republicans have blamed Democrats for delaying a vote on the infrastructure bill in a bid to seek support for a broader social spending and tax package.
“Democrats have pushed us to the wire,” with the twin Sept. 30 deadlines, Rep.
Democratic leaders are sticking with their plan to vote on the Senate infrastructure bill Thursday, and passage without change would send it to President Joe Biden’s desk. That outcome isn’t assured as progressive Democrats threatened Tuesday they won’t support it before a vote on the larger spending and tax bill.
VIDEO: We look at five reasons why it’s so difficult to build major infrastructure projects in America.
Progressives said lawmakers could pass a short-term extension to avoid a lapse if they can’t get the infrastructure bill passed in time.
“We can get that reauthorized, no problem,” Jayapal said Monday. “There are a lot of different ways to do that.”
States and transportation leaders have cautioned lawmakers throughout this year against temporary and short-term extensions because they fall short of the certainty agencies and localities need when paying for long-term projects.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) said timely reauthorization is vital because Michigan, like other states, “desperately needs” federal financial assistance.
“Funding stability provided by federal transportation programs is crucial for Michigan’s extensive capital investment needs, the needs which take multiple years to plan and construct, especially during a time of financial duress,” Whitmer testified at a Senate hearing in February. “Short-term program extensions are damaging because they can cause unnecessary program disruptions and delay essential safety and mobility benefits to Michigan communities.”