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Surface Transportation Authorization Expires

Surface transportation program funding that was last authorized in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act expired on Sept. 30 at midnight. As a result, federal surface transportation agencies and programs at the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) that rely on that legislative authority, like FMCSA, are partially shut down. The infrastructure package passed by the Senate in August contains reauthorization of these surface transportation programs but has not yet been passed by the House. The House has been considering the legislation over the past few weeks but has been unable to secure enough votes for its passage. There has been disagreement within the Democratic party on how to proceed with the passage of the infrastructure package. Progressives within the party are threatening to vote against the infrastructure package if it is not passed in conjunction with a larger budget reconciliation package, which is still being negotiated and would include much of the Biden Administration’s domestic policy agenda. However, moderates in the party are insistent that the infrastructure package be passed first, while continuing negotiations on the other legislative initiative. In order to reauthorize surface transportation programs, the House will either need to pass the infrastructure package or a short-term extension of program authorization will need passed by both the House and the Senate.