Highway reauthorization expires; FAST Act extension may be next

October 1, 2021

Mark Schremmer

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The House failed to approve a Senate-approved infrastructure bill before the highway reauthorization expired at the end of September.

Even worse, Congress didn’t appear anywhere near the finish line as of the afternoon of Friday, Oct. 1. Without the necessary votes to pass the infrastructure bill, lawmakers began preparing a 30-day extension of the FAST Act.

Failing to pass a highway bill before the Sept. 30 deadline marked the first lapse in U.S. Department of Transportation spending since 2010. It could be until next week before an extension is passed.

“We don’t expect that drivers will see any noticeable changes during this time, just something to be aware of,” the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association wrote to its more than 150,000 members on Oct. 1. “You may start seeing some processing delays at FMCSA if the holdup lasts more than a couple of weeks.”

The Senate passed a bipartisan infrastructure bill in early August, but the House was unable to move it to President Joe Biden’s desk before the deadline. The conflict stems from within the Democratic Party over the infrastructure bill and a $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation measure. According to multiple reports, moderates are threatening to withhold support of the budget bill and progressives are threatening to vote against the infrastructure bill until the budget bill passes the House and Senate.

“This is just another sign of the dysfunction in Washington,” OOIDA wrote. “Congress has missed opportunity after opportunity this year to help truckers through commonsense solutions, such as approving funding for truck parking, suspending the Heavy Vehicle Use Tax, or repealing the Fair Labor Standards Act overtime exemption for truckers so that they’re compensated for all their time. While the latest inaction is not shocking, the ineptitude is certainly frustrating.”

Although the House was unable to pass a highway bill on time, Congress was able to avoid a government shutdown by extending federal funding through Dec. 3.

As for the infrastructure bill, it remained unclear when a vote would be taken.  LL

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Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.