The U.S. Senate passed a $7 billion bill on Thursday, July 30, to shore up the Highway Trust Fund in the short term. Without the emergency fix, lawmakers said the fund would have gone broke in mid-August.
Senators voted 79-17 in favor of the bill that originated in the House as HR3357. House lawmakers gave their approval to the bill on Wednesday with a vote of 363-68.
Now on its way to President Obama’s desk for signature into law, HR3357 calls for the transfer of $7 billion from general Treasury funds to the Highway Trust Fund to keep transportation projects moving.
Two other provisions in the bill call for additional Treasury funds to boost unemployment insurance and a federal mortgage program.
Sen. Kit Bond, R-MO, attempted to pass an amendment that would have restored $8.7 billion in contract authority to the Highway Trust Fund, which is scheduled to be cut Sept. 30 when the current transportation authorization known as SAFETEA-LU expires.
The Bond amendment failed to pass along with three other amendments offered by Senate Republicans. One by Sen. David Vitter, R-LA, called for unattached stimulus money from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act to be transferred to the Highway Trust Fund.
With a short-term boost to the Highway Trust Fund about to become law, the focus of transportation leaders on Capitol Hill now turns to long-term solutions to replace SAFETEA-LU.
Those discussions will continue after Labor Day when the House and Senate return from summer recess.
– By David Tanner, staff writer