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January 11, 2011

Is reauthorization on backburner again?

by Alex Roman - Also by this author

I'm working on a story for the magazine regarding federal legislation and reauthorization and let's just say I am not filled with optimism.

It seems that at this time last year, all the experts expected reauthorization to be somewhere behind health care and climate legislation on the federal government's list of priorities. The long, slow process of getting both of those bills completed has now led to a reconstituted Congress, with the country seemingly sending a loud message last November that they will jump ship if changes aren't made.

What this new Congress and a new Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Rep. John L. Mica (R-Fla.), means for public transportation and pending reauthorization is unclear. Word from insiders is that Chairman Mica is intent on introducing a bill by this Spring, however, the fundamental challenge of finding a new way to fund the bill has still not been discovered.

So what does this all mean? Many of the folks I've been speaking with are pessimistic that a long-term bill gets done soon — many are thinking, at best, we will get a short-term bill now and, possibly, a long-term bill after the next election. Still, another option is that Congress has too many fish to fry as it is and reauthorization is inching lower and lower down the list of priorities, meaning we may just have to wait until after the next elections.

At any rate, things aren't sounding too promising. What's your take?

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Alex Roman

Managing Editor

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