Roll Call - Jessica Wehrman

New bipartisan infrastructure law could have trouble with implementation

The chairman of the House Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee is warning that implementation of last year’s massive bipartisan infrastructure law could be held up if lawmakers don’t reach an agreement on fiscal 2022 spending.

Price’s concerns echo those of Department of Transportation officials who are trying to implement the infrastructure law despite operating under a continuing resolution through Feb. 18.

The stopgap resolution makes federal transportation spending, which already is a complicated puzzle of contract funding and discretionary dollars, even more of a morass. In many cases, the department will be forced to implement the law on a program-by-program basis, with some headed for smooth implementation and others held up until there’s more funding certainty.

Even programs that are paid for by the gas-tax-funded Highway Trust Fund are subject to the continuing resolution. The Federal Highway Administration announced Dec. 15 that while the fiscal 2022 highway allotment is $52.5 billion, well above last year’s level of $47 billion, states can spend no more than $17.9 billion through Feb. 18 because of the restrictions imposed by operating under last year’s spending bill.

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