Jobs Bill Keeps Highway Funding Extension

Jobs Bill Keeps Highway Funding Extension

A Senate jobs bill that cleared a filibuster hurdle on Monday won praise from trade groups for extending surface transportation programs, but the legislation did not continue business tax exemptions.

The bill extends for a year the current highway spending program known as SAFETEA-LU. The $15 billion measure also provides funds to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent, and restores state contracting authority that was lost when the law expired in September.

The Senate voted 62-30 on a cloture vote to block a Republican filibuster. Five Republicans, including Sen. Scott P. Brown, R-Mass., joined the Democratic majority to advance the measure.

The bill trims tax incentives from the initial $85 billion bipartisan proposal which leaders of the Senate Finance Committee introduced on Feb. 12.

John Engler, president of the National Association of Manufacturers, said his group was pleased that the highway measures will create jobs but was disappointed that it eliminated the tax incentives.

John Horsley, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, noted that the latest SAFETEA-LU extension expires on Feb. 28. He urged the Senate to “act swiftly” on its bill.

The Senate bill still must be reconciled with the House “Jobs for Main Street” bill, which redirected $75 billion of unused Troubled Asset Relief Program money to several areas including transportation infrastructure.

Contact R.G. Edmonson at bedmonson@joc.com.