Rep. James L. Oberstar, D-Minn., said Wednesday that he would agree to a six-month extension of the existing highway spending program if the Senate and White House agree to use the time to craft new legislation to reform the Department of Transportation and provide money for a new six-year program.
“We will have to provide an extension of the authority of the current law. But I want to do that within the context of an understanding and a meeting of minds with the administration and the Senate on a longer term bill,” Oberstar, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said.
The current law, known as SAFETEA-LU, is due to expire Dec. 28.
“Whatever extension we have will include the timeframe in which we will act on a long-term authorization,” Oberstar said. “I don’t know whether it will be six months. My preference is less.”
The Senate last summer agreed with a White House request to extend the law for 18 months. By last month, their proposal had been whittled down to six months. Oberstar is the sponsor of a $500 billion, six-year surface transportation bill that he planned to have in place by the time SAFETEA-LU expired on Sept. 30.
Oberstar agreed to extend the law until Dec. 28, but has held firm against Senate pressure for a longer extension. His comment came during a press conference in which transportation groups presented a list of some 9,500 shovel-ready projects that could be included in a new jobs bill.
The information that the groups collected will be presented to the White House, which is sponsoring a jobs summit Thursday, Dec. 3.
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