Congress Funds Transportation Projects -- Until May
The nation’s highway and mass transit programs can breathe easy for another 10 months after Senate Democrats relented Thursday and cleared a GOP-crafted $11 billion extension they had overwhelmingly rejected two days ago.
But as happy as transportation interests will be to have something — anything — in place soon, the bill’s passage nevertheless represents a defeat for asphalt, trucking and other business groups that have long pushed for a hike in the gas tax and a five- or six-year transportation bill.
The Senate’s 81-13 vote sends the legislation to President Barack Obama for his signature mere hours before the Transportation Department said it would need to begin cutting payments to states and on the brink of a five-week congressional vacation. Failure to act would have put 700,000 jobs at risk, according to the administration.
Though the Senate’s actions may seem incongruous, in the end, it turned out exactly how most observers expected — with the Senate making a statement but, ultimately, acceding to the House’s version of a bill and ensuring money remains flowing to states for transportation projects.