The stopgap spending bill that would fund the U.S. government for six months passed the House of Representatives on Sept. 13 on a 329-91 vote. The bill's $1.047 trillion annual rate represents an increase of approx. $8 billion over current spending levels.
The bill puts a hold on two Republican amendments to the House Transportation appropriations bill which has already passed the House. The amendments would stop the surface transportation reauthorization’s truck electronic onboard recorder mandate, and prevent any study of implementation of a vehicle-miles traveled fee. Both measures took the form of a funding prohibition, and will not be able to be considered until a permanent appropriations bill is passed.
The Senate never took up its transportation appropriations bill, and the stopgap continuing resolution (CR) largely extends current policies and funding levels, albeit with a minor across-the-board increase. That extension has drawn fire from some, including Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), for not fully funding the recently enacted surface transportation law. It is about $280 million short of the law’s spending assumptions over six months.
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) and other Republicans blame the Senate for not passing its appropriation bills, making this continuing resolution the only option. “They claim they’re for small-business owners, but they really love to pick winners and losers,” Rep. Jeff laundry (R-La.) told POLITICO.
Whether or not the next Congress will eventually pass a full appropriations package or simply extend for another six months and focus on the next fiscal year is up in the air.
Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), a top T&I member who is widely expected to chair the committee next year if Republicans keep their House majority, said that could hinge on the presidential election. “It depends on who’s elected president. We might do some stuff if Obama’s reelected,” he told POLITICO. “If it’s Romney, we might just say punt.”