Congress set to avoid U.S. transport shutdowns

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 10, 2011 12:03 AM
Congress set to avoid U.S. transport shutdowns

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Congressional negotiators reached breakthroughs on Friday that would allow the government to avoid shutdowns of U.S. aviation and highway programs later this month.

The House of Representatives Transportation Committee teed up a bill to extend Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) construction programs through January.

It would formally be proposed on Monday at the earliest with votes set for next week. Current funding expires on September 16.

Partisan gridlock on the FAA measure in July triggered a two-week shutdown of airport construction programs and led to furloughs of 4,000 workers.

Similar legislation to extend funding for highway and transit programs through March was close to being completed in the House, an aide said.

Like the FAA plan, it, too, was expected to pass muster with Senate leaders although a related proposal under consideration in that chamber envisioned a shorter time-frame for highway funding.

Current funding for highway and transit programs expires on September 30.

A string of temporary extensions have kept both programs alive in recent years while Congress struggled with longer term blueprints for both.

However, the swiftness with which the two sides have appeared to bury differences on the new temporary measures since returning from their August recess this week improves prospects for a deal on a long-term FAA bill.

Of the two big transport bills, the FAA legislation is further along and most differences were resolved months ago.

(Reporting by John Crawley; editing by Philip Barbara)