Despite a negotiated multi-year Highway Bill deal between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Congress ultimately settled for a 3-month stop-gap bill.
The $8 billion bill signed by Obama extends infrastructure spending for roads and bridges until Oct. 29, 2015, further delaying the discussion of any long-term solution to fall 2015.
Though McConnell and Boxer were pleased with their agreement, other senators claimed that the 1,030-page agreement was longer than the Affordable Care Act and was presented to the senators merely 20 minutes before the scheduled procedural vote. Nevertheless, the Senate passed the six-year highway bill. Unfortunately, the House refused to adopt the plan and House representatives left for their summer vacations, forcing passage of the 3-month bill.
Though the President signed the $8 billion makeshift bill, he was angered by Congress’ inability to hammer out a long-term solution: “We can’t keep on funding transportation by the seat of our pants. That’s just not how the greatest country [in the world] does business. I guarantee you that’s not how China, Germany and other countries around the world handle their infrastructure.”
The stopgap measure affects the way in which the U. S. Department of Transportation does business. Many programs funded through the Highway Trust Fund are now authorized only through October 29, 2015, which prevents new obligations in Highway and Transit programs and affects reimbursements to individual states.
Despite repeated delays and the inability or unwillingness to pass a long-term solution, authorities hope for a long-term highway funding solution by Congress in the fall, when Congress necessarily addresses highway funding once again.
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