House Leadership Pulls Transportation Bill, Citing Lack of Support

In a surprise move yesterday, the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill for FY 2014 was pulled from consideration on the House floor by House GOP leadership, due to a lack of votes for passage. The move is seen by some as a sign of wavering Republican support for lower sequestration-level spending. In a statement, Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers himself said, "I believe that the House has made its choice: Sequestration — and its unrealistic and ill-conceived discretionary cuts — must be brought to an end." The Senate version of the bill is currently under consideration on the Senate floor.

The move comes as both parties are gearing up for another showdown on deficits and spending to avoid a government shutdown on October 1, the start of a new fiscal year. While a long-term deal still appears remote, a short-term deal that rolls back at least a portion of sequestration in the next year or two still seems possible, though negotiations so far have yielded little. It's not clear how likely a shutdown actually is at this point, as even if Congress and the White House are unable to come up with a workable deal, they would still have the option of agreeing to a short-term continuing resolution to buy additional time, though again the duration and spending levels would remain to be determined.

UPDATE: Following the House activities, Senate Republicans have now successfully filibustered the Senate version of the Transportation bill, meaning that neither chamber will act on the bill before recess next week. The Senate bill was about $10 billion higher than the House bill.

Table: Congressional Action on DOT R&D