Despite some last-minute antics, House and Senate leaders have finally agreed to pass a clean extension of the transportation bill, giving lawmakers a 6-month window to hash out a new, and hopefully improved, transportation policy for this country.
The clean extension of the bill ensures that hundreds of necessary road, bridge and transit projects already underway can continue, and keeps thousands of workers on the job – for at least a few more months. (In August, Congress failed to extend funding for the FAA, resulting in the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars and the immediate furlough of some 4,000 aviation workers.)
Now that the extension is imminent, the hard work remains. The House and Senate visions of a new transportation program are miles apart, with the House bent on slashing federal funds and the Senate looking to spur economic growth through infrastructure investments.
Reconciling these visions is no easy task, and will doubtless involve attacks on the environmental review process. But with the pressure mounting to create jobs, and the President throwing his support behind infrastructure investment, perhaps Congress will put aside partisanship and work together to design a clean, effective, economy-boosting national transportation program. America deserves it.