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Conferees race deadline on transportation.

With only weeks left before projected adjournment, House and Senate conferees sat down las week to begin the process of reaching a compromise on an extension of federal surface transportation programs.

Authorization for states to spend federal highway dollars expired on September 30 and many Congressional observers believe major differences between the House and Senate will prevent any agreement before Congress leaves for the year.

In their first meeting on November 7, conferees from the House Public Works and Transportation and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committees sat down to address their hope for an early agreement and directed Committee staff to work on areas of agreement for another meeting next week.

House Committee Chairman Robert Roe (D-NJ) noted the enormity of the task ahead for the 92 House and Senate conferees. He stressed the similarities between the two bills and called for a joint commitment to get the legislation enacted before the nation's surface transportation programs "ground to a halt."

Senate Subcommittee Chairman Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) expressed hope that an agreement could be reached and called for White House support in finding a compromise. He objected to the political rhetoric that distracts from the atmosphere necessary to iron out the differences between the two versions of the bill.

House Surface Transportation Subcommittee Chairman Norman Mineta (D-Calif.) blasted the administration's lack of commitment to our nation's infrastructure and called for a new White House emphasis on problems in our own nation.

"The federal government has fallen down on the job and left states and localities to pick up the mess," Mineta said. "The Cold War is over . . . and now is the time to rebuild America."

Rep. Bud Shuster (R-Pa.), senior Committee Republican, warned the White House that "political rhetoric does nothing to help on this bill" and called for cooperation from the White House in working out an agreement.

Senate Subcommittee Ranking Republican Steve Symms (R-Idaho) was optimistic over the chances of reaching a compromise and outlined the areas he sees as the most difficult. They include: apportionment formulas, the structure of the new program including state and local responsibilities, and the demonstration projects.
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Title Annotation:House and Senate conferees attempting to reach a transportation bill compromise before adjournment
Author:Wollack, Leslie
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Nov 11, 1991
Words:356
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