Transportation budgets are in limbo for the foreseeable future, thanks to being tacked on to the continuing funding resolution that runs until March 4. It's safe to assume surface transit funding will see another temporary extension at that point. And after that, the bulk of the legwork on transportation funding will be in the hands of Republican-controlled House appropriators. GOP leaders in the House have been aggressively vocal about their intent to slash federal spending, and some are seeking to cancel unspent stimulus funds. President Obama, for his part, is committing to increased infrastructure spending over the next two years. That puts transportation in the center of what could be a nasty political fight.
Are there areas where federal transportation budgets can be reduced without harming the programs? Will Obama's priorities (such as high-speed rail) suffer in the belt tightening, or will non-rail entities get the shaft? And what happens to the current surface transportation law, now in its sixth temporary extension since it expired on September 30, 2009? House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman John Mica, R-Fla., has said that he will make a long-term authorization a top priority. But does that actually mean that transportation funding will be the first to get the ax?