Congress averts a surface transportation apocalypse, or defers it

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Highway. (Shutterstock)
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Congress has, at least temporarily, averted disaster, with both houses passing a 90-day surface transportation bill. 

Earlier today, the House passed a 90-day extension for the surface transportation bill, which uses gas tax revenue to fund the nation's highways, bridges and mass transit systems. The M.T.A. relies on gax-tax funding for some $1 billion in revenue a year.

Shortly thereafter, the Senate, which had been lobbying for a two-year surface transportation bill to replace the one expiring March 31, agreed to the House's stopgap measure, in the absence of a longer-term solution.

The stopgap means that there won't be any of the massive work stoppages on transportation projects around the country that were expected to ensue, should the existing legislation expire and nothing replace it. But that relief is only short-term. 

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The National Journal reports, "Leadership aides said the staffers for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Boehner are negotiating to set up a House-Senate conference committee to seek agreement on a long-term bill. Those talks will continue into the pending two-week recess."