Reauthorization — first glimpses, second guesses

So compromise wins. So it should; that’s what a Senate/House conference committees does.

But looking at the first details of the new reauthorization bill, it’s impossible not to feel that this is a compromise that could have happened way sooner. Much of it is simply dumping Senate clauses. Not too much discussion needed here because in a lot of cases the House hadn’t addressed the issues at stake, simply offering a weak-kneed extension. 

But there’s no pipeline, so something big happened somewhere. Maybe it was the election and the power of job creation.

It’s basic, but it does address some reforms to speed up highway and bridge projects and to give state, regional and local authorities more room to move and decide what to do with their D.C. dollars. Funding basically at expected levels and not different enough from SAFETEA-LU to wring dramatic changes. And it may attract more private money into highway funding.

Members of Congress are calling it a jobs bill and are well pleased with themselves. But it if was fair to say politics held up reauthorization since SAFETEA-LU expired in September 2009 it is also fair to say that this compromise was also the work of politics. The very members who help it up to make re-election points will now trumpet their ‘jobs’ achievement to the electorate.

Take a look at this early AP report and for an overview of the provisions and some detail, and for some insight into specifics and also into how the compromise occurred, check out this report from the conference committee.

Oh, and FYI — this bill will expire Sept. 30, 2014. Get ready.