The Senate on Thursday, Sept. 15, approved legislation that extends taxes funding federal highway spending through March and the Federal Aviation Administration through January. The bill (H.R. 2887) passed the U.S. House on Tuesday and won Senate approval in a 92-6 vote. The bill was announced on Monday as the result of an agreement between House and Senate leaders and was seen as a high priority because FAA funding was to expire by the end of the week.
The “nay” votes were all Republicans: Thomas Coburn (Okla.), Jim DeMint (S.C), Ron Johnson (Wis.), Mike Lee (Utah), Rand Paul (Ky.) and Patrick Toomey (Pa.). Coburn briefly filibustered because he opposed funding slated for beauty enhancements such as bike paths, trees along roadways and infrastructure to direct storm runoff. The bill now goes to President Obama for his signature.
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Official applauded the efforts by both houses of Congress. “This extension will allow state DOTs to continue to deliver jobs for our nation’s economy while maintaining the funding continuity needed to operate and maintain a national transportation system,” said John Horsley, AASHTO executive director. “We congratulate Sen. (Barbara) Boxer (D-Calif.) and Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), as chairs of their respective Senate and House committees, for their leadership and support for a national job creating and sustaining surface transportation program.”
Mica, who introduced the bill, described its passage as “a positive step for the country that the Congress has passed this historic combination of extensions, which is important for job creation and our nation’s infrastructure. With the FAA bill delayed four and a half years and a two-year delay on the highway measure, Congress must now act responsibly to enact long-term reauthorizations that will put Americans back to work and build our nation’s infrastructure. I challenge House and Senate leaders to continue to work toward long-overdue solutions that address our transportation needs. The 22nd FAA extension and 8th highway bill extension must be the last.”