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Jobs bill provides needed funds but delays reauthorization until 2011

February 23, 2010

The U.S. Senate voted 62-30 Monday night to move forward with the first in a series of job-creation bills that, among other things, would stabilize the federal highway and transit programs through the end of the year. 

The procedural vote defeated a Republican filibuster attempt.  Republicans George Voinovich (Ohio), Kit Bond (Mo.), Susan Collins (Maine), Olympia Snowe (Maine) and Scott Brown (Mass.) voted with 57 Democrats to allow the legislation to move forward. 

Republican objections to the measure were primarily in response to the perception that Reid did not provide them an opportunity to help develop or amend the package.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said after the vote the Senate will pass the measure in the next day or so.

National and state industry advocacy groups have been calling for an immediate extension of the federal surface transportation programs to save numerous jobs in the transportation construction industry.  While this bill falls far short of the multi-year bill the industry advocates, it is a very positive step toward ensuring the continuity of federal highway and public transportation funds as we approach the 2010 construction season. 

The House passed a bill in December that would extend reauthorization through the end of September.  It is unclear if the two chambers will attempt to reconcile their bills before the current short-term extension of the programs expires on Feb. 28.  Given the short time frame and the difficulty of moving legislation through the Senate, it is possible the House will simply adopt the Senate measure in its entirety.

SOURCE:  ARTBA

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