Highway, transit shutdown ends with enactment of one-month extension

The Senate approved a bill Tuesday night to extend legal authority for the Highway Trust Fund for 30 days, sending the legislation to President Barack Obama, who has now signed the measure, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) reported.

The president’s signature on HR 4691 will end a shutdown of the trust fund and the furlough of 2,000 U.S. Department of Transportation employees that occurred Monday after the fund’s authority to spend money expired Sunday.

Senators approved the bill by a vote of 78-19 after rejecting an amendment offered by Sen. Jim Bunning, R-KY, who dropped his days-long blockade of the bill Tuesday evening in exchange for a vote on his amendment to pay for the $10 billion bill with the closing of a tax loophole that has benefited the paper industry, the AASHTO Journal reports. The amendment failed on a budget point of order, with 43 senators voting in favor of the amendment and 53 senators voting against it.

Bunning had held up the Senate’s consideration of the package of 30-day extensions since Thursday, arguing that the measures were not paid for. In addition to extending Highway Trust Fund authorization, the measure also extends several other provisions of law that expired Sunday including additional unemployment benefits for Americans who have run out of the standard six-month jobless payments and boosting Medicare reimbursement payments for doctors.

View the full story at http://www.aashtojournal.org/Pages/030310trustfund.aspx.