WASHINGTON – Congress is hoping to wrap up work for 2011 by the end of this week. But with much bigger issues such as the payroll tax cut extension and annual spending bills still unresolved, a final vote on authorizing a new bridge over the St. Croix River has not yet been scheduled.
The bill’s two sponsors, GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann and DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar, had been hopeful the bridge bill would be resolved by year-end. But with time running out on the legislative calendar, that outcome is looking unlikely.
“We are encouraged by leadership and the Natural Resources Committee that HR850 will see a vote, but unfortunately we did not have a concrete timeline at this time,” said Becky Rogness, spokeswoman for GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann, the bill’s House sponsor.
Measures such as this one are sometimes attached to larger, must-pass bills and there’s no shortage of candidates for the St. Croix River crossing to get hitched to. Congress is set to pass a massive $900 billion spending bill by the end of the week and is also due to pass some kind of legislation extending a payroll tax cut and tweaking a Medicare payment formula. All of those bills could be possible legislative vehicles for the Stillwater bridge replacement.
Congressional inaction on this bill has frustrated Gov. Dayton and MnDOT, which last summer had established a Sept. 30 deadline for legislation to pass before money for the bridge would be allocated to other projects. With that date long past, MnDOT now says there is no immediate deadline for Congress to act.