The Senate this weekend cleared the two-month highway funding patch passed last week by the U.S. House, securing solvency for the U.S. Highway Trust Fund until July 31. This is Congress’ 33rd stopgap surface transportation measure in a decade despite introduction of several long-term bills.
Lawmakers also again pledged to pass multi-year highway legislation.
President Obama is expected to sign the bill to extend highway reauthorization, currently set to expire May 31. By voice vote, the Senate approved continuing Highway Trust Fund spending May 23 after the House passed the bill 387-35.
Lawmakers have not approved a long-term funding bill since the last one became law in 2005, followed by passage of a two-year bill in 2012. Obama said this “continual pattern of uncertainty” has caused states to cancel or delay projects during peak construction season.
Environment and Public Works Chairman Sen. Jim Inhofe and ranking member Sen. Barbara Boxer acknowledged passage of the latest short-term measure May 23. The Oklahoma Republican and the California Democrat said their committee’s goal is to mark up a six-year surface transportation reauthorization bill June 24.
Oregon’s Rep. Peter DeFazio and 19 other transportation committee Democrats reintroduced Obama’s six-year bill May 19 after the administration floated the proposal earlier this year. The Grow America Act, a more ambitious version of last year’s bill, includes driver pay reform, among other potential trucking-related actions.