There’s a lot of confusion around the Jobs Bill. A lot of people think it already passed and want to know when money will start rolling in for construction projects. Well, we’re not quite there yet. The Senate yesterday passed a $15 billion version of the bill, which is significantly smaller that the $154 billion Jobs Bill the House of Representatives passed late last year. As a result of the differences between the two bills, the $15 billion Senate version will now go back to the House for re-consideration.

House members could choose to vote on the Senate bill without any changes and send the $15 billion version to the president for a signature, or they could establish a conference committee to reconcile the differences between the bills.

A decision on how to proceed is likely to be announced late this week or early next week. The extention of the SAFETEA-LU transportation act expires at the end of February, and both versions of the Jobs Bills will extend it.

Besides the amount of money allocated to them, the big differences between the two versions of the bill are(provided by the Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors):

1) Duration – the House version of the SAFETEA-LU extension runs through the end of September (Fiscal year); the Senate version runs through December, the calendar year.

2) Rescission – the Senate version restores the $8.7 billion rescinded from the states last fall. The House version does not.

3) State/Local Match – the House version waives the state/local match requirements for highway funds through the extension (September); however, the Senate bill does not.

4) Earmarked programs – The Senate version distributes 2010 funds through the formula programs, and adds the amount of earmarks awarded in 2009 to the states through the standard formula programs. Meanwhile, the House version instructs USDOT to distribute funds for the Projects of National and Regional Significance and corridors programs using the program criteria, and sends the remaining earmarked funds out to the states for use in the standard formula programs.

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