Senate acts to ensure highway funding to May, passes short-term bill

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The Senate on Thursday passed a 10-month funding bill that will prevent the Highway Trust Fund from going broke until the end of May. The bill was passed by the House earlier this month, so it is now a presidential signature away from becoming law. 

The bill’s clearance in Congress comes after a showdown between the House and Senate this week, as the Senate on Tuesday passed its own short-term funding patch that would have ensured solvency of the HTF through December and would have required a post-election lame-duck Congress to figure out a longer term solution. 

However, the issue now likely will not be taken up until after the next round of lawmakers takes its place. 

The House voted 272-150 Thursday, July 31, on a motion to “disagree” with the Senate’s changes to its bill, before the lower chamber adjourned for a five-week recess.

The House’s vote left the matter up to the Senate, who faced the choice to either pass the House’s version of the bill or allow the Highway Trust Fund to run out of money. 

The Department of Transportation said in early July it would have to begin restricting reimbursements to states for highway projects, as the Highway Trust fund is projected to run dry in August.

For now, however, Congress has bought the department 10 more months. 

The Senate version had been the preferred by trucking trade groups, because it would force Congressional action this year, rather than dragging out the debate into the spring.