House and Senate appropriators have agreed on a fiscal 2008 transportation spending bill that boosts highway spending to record levels and added $1 billion for deficient bridges across the country plus $195 million to build a replacement for the Minneapolis bridge that collapsed in August. But the measure faces a White House veto threat.
The House-Senate conference agreement, announced in the evening of Nov. 8, sets the highway obligation ceiling at $40.2 billion, an increase of $1.25 billion, or 3%, over the 2007 level. Lawmakers also agreed to add $1 billion for bridges above that obligation limit, as proposed by Senate transportation appropriations subcommittee Chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.).
In addition, conferees included $195 million to construct a new Interstate-35W bridge in Minneapolis.
In another key construction account, the measure provides $3.5 billion for federal Airport Improvement Program construction grants, about the same as 2007's total.
The Federal Transit Administration would receive $9.65 billion, up about 7% from 2007.
The White House has issued veto threats for the transportation appropriations bills that passed the House and Senate earlier this year, contending their spending is too high.
The conference agreement still requires approval by the full House and Senate. It could be taken up as a stand-alone measure or combined with other appropriations bills in a a large spending package. None of the 12 individual appropriations bills for 2008 has been enacted yet.