Senate Democrats got support from eight additional Republicans Wednesday to pass a jobs bill by a 70-28 margin. Five Republicans supported the majority to block a filibuster on the bill on Monday.
The Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act includes an extension of the current highway and transit spending programs known as SAFETEA-LU and funds to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent.
The current SAFETEA-LU extensions expire Feb. 28, and the industry is looking to the House to approve the Senate bill or call for a conference before the deadline.
John Horsley, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, said the extension will assure states of a stable federal source for highway and transit projects.
Some members of Congress are beginning to ask when legislation will come forth to replace SAFETEA-LU. During a Senate Budget Committee hearing Wednesday morning, Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., asked Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood when Congress will get the Obama administration’s plan for a new surface transportation bill. LaHood did not give a date, but said that the administration would present its wish list “soon” after Congress passes the SAFETEA-LU extension.
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