The Authorization Update

April 17, 2012
Congress is back and talks of another 90-day extension are in the works.

Congress is back and talks of another 90-day extension are in the works.

The Rules Committee takes the up the plan from Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), to allow a floor vote Wednesday for another 90-day extension which would go through September 30. And, this extension would add a provision to speed the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline project.

The Keystone XL pipeline project would carry synthetic crude oil and diluted bitumen from Alberta, Canada, to refineries on the Gulf Coast. 

Some House members are also concerned that this plan doesn’t have more policy changes to trim federal control over states’ flexibility in spending the Highway Trust Fund money.

The buzz this morning is about the conservative group Heritage Action for America's blog post. Heritage Action concludes in the post, “Lawmakers and their constituents should understand that a vote for the 90-day extension enables the Senate-passed bill to become law.”

It refers to the 90-day extension as a “kabuki dance,” referencing House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica’s (R-Fla.) comment in December – “Those are kabuki dances anyways.”

The purpose of this extension is to get a conference committee with the Senate-passed bill S.1813. With the House not having passed a bill of its own, it doesn’t have a policy to negotiate, so they are using this shell bill to bypass lawmakers.

The Senate bill passed with unanimous Democrat support and half the Republican’s support, so Senate Democrats have little incentive to compromise with the House Republicans. 

Heritage Action's fear is that the outcome will be the Keystone XL pipeline project attached to the Senate's bill, MAP-21.

John Stanton at “Roll Call” wrote, “House GOP leaders face a bumpy road within their own party over the direction of a long-term transportation spending extension, even as they prepare for a vote Wednesday.