The Senate has until Friday midnight to decide whether to get on board with the House’s recently passed extension to highway programs, demand changes to the bill or continue to push their two-year plan in the opposing chamber.
The Senate is expected to vote soon on the 90-day extension, which was approved by a 266-158 vote Thursday. The White House, which backs the Senate’s $109 billion plan, signaled it would accept a three-month extension, according to The Hill.
As in the previous two House stop-gap pushes, debate on the floor turned raucous, with Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., saying Republicans acted like clowns in their attempt to pass a five-year, $260 billion plan. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has struggled to get his more conservative members to accept the bill's price tag, while Democrats balk at expanding domestic energy production to fill a funding shortfall.
Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif, said the extension would “mean the continuation of thousands of job losses that have already begun due to uncertainty created by the House approach." She plans to attach the Senate bill to the 90-day extension and send it back to the House.
A shutdown of federal highway funding would threaten 1.8 million jobs, and more than $100 million in fuel tax revenue would be lost every day highway programs are offline, Democrats say. A shutdown of national highway programs would also stymy the ability of state transportation agencies to commit to long-term projects.