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TEA 21 Extended Two More Months

Late on Thursday, Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee Chairman Kit Bond (R-MO) agreed to allow the Senate to approve the third extension of TEA 21 for another two months.

Chairman Bond had held up Senate consideration of the measure earlier Thursday to protest Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle’s (D-SD) refusal to allow a conference committee to be formed on the six-year highway reauthorization bill. Sen. Daschle has conditioned his willingness to allow a conference committee to be formed on holding a bipartisan “pre-conference” meeting with Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN).

The minority leader wants to receive assurances in the pre-conference meeting that Senate Republicans will back the Senate-passed $318 billion funding level and guarantee full Democratic participation in the conference committee.

In the end, Senator Bond was able to express his displeasure at Sen. Daschle’s demand for a pre-conference but was forced to back down and allow the extension bill to proceed. Failing to do so would have forced a shutdown of the Federal Highway Administration and would have halted federal-aid road construction projects nationwide.

The new TEA 21 extension expires on June 30, 2004. Many Washington-insiders speculate that Congress must complete work by then or Presidential election politics will force the term of any further extension beyond the November elections.

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