More Shutdown Fights

President Obama tries to get the public relations jump on Congress today on a pair of laws that expire in September, dealing with airports and highway projects.

"The President will hold an event to call on Congress to move forward in a bipartisan way to pass a clean extension of the Surface Transportation Bill, which expires at the end of September, and a clean extension of the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization, which expires in mid-September," said the White House media advisory.

Lots of you remember the last battle over the FAA, which led to a partial shutdown of that agency when the Congress did not approve an extension of the FAA Authorization on time, as 4,000 workers were furloughed and thousands of construction jobs were put on hold for two weeks.

The 21st extension of that law over the last four years expires on September 16, so the Congress will have to do something about it by then.

Meanwhile, at the end of September, another major law expires, that for highway projects.

Remember how when the FAA law lapsed, the feds could not collect airline ticket taxes? Well, if the Surface Transportation law is not extended, guess what the feds could no longer collect?

18.4 cents per gallon in federal gasoline taxes.

Could we see a repeat of the FAA standoff, in which road construction projects are put on hold because of Congressional gridlock, and millions of dollars in gas tax revenues aren't collected by the feds?

I guess we can't rule that out, since we just had a two week brouhaha over the FAA.

There have been proposals for years in Congress to do away with the federal gas tax, and let states keep that money in their own coffers, instead of sending it to Washington, D.C. and the Department of Transportation.

That is most definitely not on the to-do list at the White House, nor are their any serious plans to raise that gas tax.

So will we have a showdown after Labor Day over the gas tax and the FAA? President Obama will argue today that it shouldn't happen.

But it doesn't mean the Congress will be listening. Just look at the recent fights over both the debt limit and the FAA authorization.

While the House and Senate have both passed long term FAA bills, there have been no votes or debates in either body on a long term highway bill.

Oh by the way, being that it is hurricane season, we should also note one other law that expires on September 30 - the National Flood Insurance Program.

It could be a wild September, indeed.

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