Why does Congress keep extending SAFETEA-LU?

SAFETEA-LU expired on September 30, 2009, but President Obama signed a 31-day extension on October 1, 2009. This is the same day the federal budget expired, and the extension, called a continuing resolution, also included funding for nearly all federal agencies to continue their work at current funding levels. The extension bill is H.R. 2918 (public law 111-68).

It’s now November 17, 2009, and what happened to that extension that expired on Halloween? A new bill was signed by the president (on October 30) that makes another extension, this time lasting until December 18, 2009. This extension is buried within H.R. 2996 (public law 111-88). Read the bill and you won’t find any explicit language that extends transportation funding.

Larry Ehl at the Washington (state) Department of Transportation (WashDOT) breaks down how to read between the lines to understand the text necessary to extend SAFETEA-LU. Essentially, H.R. 2996 modifies H.R. 2918. Subscribe to WashDOT’s Federal Transportation Issues blog to stay apprised.

Find bill text at Thomas, an online repository from the Library of Congress.