Senate Committee Clears Highway Bill Extension

In advance to the president’s speech of the transportation jobs on Thursday, Sept 8th, the senate committee in charge of transportation approved a short term extension of the highway spending bill that authorizes congress to collect federal gas tax. This is the eighth time that Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) has been extended since it last expired in 2009.

However, there seems to be a conflict between the two parties in regard to the bill. Although transportation advocates have asked for a long term bill, but the republican led house and the democratically controlled senate have provided different versions of the bill. Republican led house proposed to spend $235 billion over the next 6 years on transportation while on the other hand; Senate suggested spending $109 billion in next two years.

But on a common note, everyone wants to see the highway bill extended before it expires on September 30th. After the partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration last month over a normally routine extension and the large fight over raising the federal debt ceiling, many transportation supporters feared the gas tax would be the next standoff between Democrats and Republican in Congress. Both Democrats and republicans on the senate committee are content with Thursday’s vote.

In a statement released by his office, senator Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) said “Failing to extend this law would jeopardize hundreds of thousands of construction jobs at a time when unemployment in the industry remains sky high,”

“The American people didn’t send us here to make unemployment worse and allow our roads to crumble and that’s why we must act swiftly to extend this law,” he continued. “Instead of putting up roadblocks to this extension, I hope our colleagues will work with us to fix the economy, help Americans get back to work and keeps our country moving forward. Once we have passed this short-term fix, we need to complete work on a long-term bill that strengthens investment in our national transportation network to create jobs, maintain our roads and bridges, and invest in rail and transit to ease commutes.”

“What matters is passing a two-year bill,” he said. “If we fail to enact an extension prior to the end of this fiscal year, thousands of highway projects will be at risk of being stopped in their tracks, which would threaten tens of thousands of jobs. We’ve passed seven highway extensions since the last highway bill expired in 2009. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this extension.”

“Congress must not fail in swiftly delivering this measure to the President before the program expires on September 30, 2011,” he said. “Failure by Congress to act would ultimately impact transportation safety, mobility, and emergency response operations, would threaten our national economic competitiveness, as well as jeopardize thousands of jobs across the country.”

“Beyond the short-term extension, both parties must also continue to work towards a long overdue multi-year highway and transit bill in the same spirit of cooperation,” he said. “We expect the President to encourage this important next step in his address to Congress tonight.

“The time is now for Congress and the White House to take bipartisan action and deliver on a transportation bill that makes America stronger and keeps the economy, and the American people, moving into the future,” he continued.

Although the fate of heavy vehicle use tax is still undecided, but we can definitely say that an extension of the bill is an encouraging step in transportation industry and we will see more positive changes in near future. will keep you all updated on the news and updates relating to the transportation industry and heavy vehicle use tax. Meanwhile if you haven’t got your form 2290 filed for previous year, you can do so with and for current year 2011, although form 2290 electronic filing has not yet begun, but you can still file 2290 online in advance with us and once IRS begins accepting IRS form 2290 returns, we will transmit your returns and provide 2290 schedule 1 in minutes.

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