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House to vote on two-week highway bill

House to vote on two-week highway bill

The House is planning to vote Monday on a measure to extend federal transportation funding for two weeks in an effort to prevent a lapse in infrastructure spending.

The measure would keep federal funds flowing — currently set to stop on Friday — until Dec. 4.

Lawmakers are hoping the latest patch will provide time for them to finish work on a long-sought multiyear infrastructure bill. 

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“The House and Senate are making good progress in resolving differences between their respective multi-year surface transportation reauthorization proposals," said House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), who is sponsoring the temporary patch.  

"The conference committee needs the time necessary to meet in public, complete negotiations, and produce a final measure that helps improve America’s infrastructure," Shuster continued. "This clean extension provides time for that process to occur and for the House and Senate to vote on the final legislation, without shutting down transportation programs and projects in the meantime.”

The new measure does not include any additional spending because lawmakers included enough in the three-month transportation bill approved in July to last until the end of the year. 

Lawmakers in October moved the deadline to this Friday, but they are running out of time to reach a bicameral  agreement before the scheduled interruption in road and transit spending. 

Congress has not passed a transportation funding bill that lasted longer than two years since 2005, much to the chagrin of infrastructure advocates in Washington.  

Both chambers have passed highway bills that contain at least three years of guaranteed transportation funding, but lawmakers are still haggling over a unified version. 

The highway bill approved by the House calls for spending up to $261 billion on highways and $55 billion on transit over six years. The legislation would authorize highway funding for six years but only includes enough money to pay for the first three of them. 

The Senate passed a similar bill that also contains three years' worth of guaranteed highway funding in July. 

Lawmakers had hoped to be able to get a multiyear highway bill to Obama’s desk by Thanksgiving, but they are now moving to pass another patch before Friday.

The Department of Transportation has warned that it will have to stop making payments to states and local governments for infrastructure projects in November if Congress does not reach an agreement on at least a temporary transportation funding extension by Friday. 

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated it will take about $100 billion, in addition to annual revenue from the federal gas tax, to pay for a six-year transportation funding bill.

-This story was updated with new information at 7:31 p.m.