Monday, July 2, 2012
Congress passes transportation bill
Proving that they could actually get something done in a contentious election year, Congress passed a bipartisan two-year transportation bill on Friday. The final $127 billion package also included measures on student loan extensions and an overhaul of federal flood insurance, according to the New York Times.
The $120 billion transportation bill, which will be touted as a boon for the U.S. job market, passed the Senate 373 to 52 and the House with a vote of 74 to 19. Only Republicans voted against. Federal highway, railroad and transit projects will be extended 27 months.
The measure will be paid for with the current 18.4 cents-per-gallon gas tax and the 24.4 cents-per-gallon diesel tax. $19 billion in Treasury funds will also be transferred to the Highway Fund, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense.
Compromise got the job done. House conservatives originally wanted to get rid of the taxes and let the states fund their own transportation projects. The GOP also let go of the Keystone Pipeline provision they had attached to the bill. Democrats agreed to drop $1.4 billion in land and water conservation allotments.
Republicans did get some concessions in the package, including a streamlined transportation review process and allowing states to opt out of spending some transportation funds for bicycle paths and roadside enhancement.
Senator Barbara Boxer, one of the primary creators of the bill, said the bill would generate one million jobs and save another two million.
For more of the New York Times story: www.nytimes.com
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