Senate rules seemed to be exacerbating the problem on Wednesday. Reid said he had to continue, until Friday, the consideration of a bill to replenish federal disaster relief funds. Coburn's refusal to let the aviation-highway bill go through the Senate's fast-track procedure — unanimous consent — means Reid would have to bring it up after the FEMA bill is completed.
Depending on the circumstances, it could take days to get the FAA bill out of the Senate.
Coburn cites projects
Coburn read some of the enhancement projects that had been funded with hundreds of thousands of dollars of federal fuel tax money. Among those cited were a museum in Pennsylvania, a Chinatown gateway in California and a squirrel sanctuary in Tennessee. He said states could choose to fund such projects but shouldn't be forced to do so in order to receive their federal road funding.
Congress has been unable to reach consensus on long-term legislation for the FAA and surface transportation that would eliminate the need for temporary extensions — and threats of shutdowns.
The FAA's authority already has been temporarily extended 21 times since 2007. The highway bill has been extended seven times. The bill before the Senate would extend the FAA's authority for four months and surface transportation programs for six months.