Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) threatened to tag the 90-day highway funding extension passed by the House with the Senate’s two-year, $109 billion measure. That did not happen, as Boxer and her constituents acted swiftly and unanimously to pass the three-month option on March 29 to avoid a highway program shutdown. President Obama signed the move on March 30.
The hope in the House is the 90-day extension will allow time to generate support of a five-year, $260 billion measure that was frowned upon by a host of lawmakers a few weeks ago. Congress, however, is now on recess for the next two weeks, and if the House can muster up enough votes for H.R. 7 it still leaves little negotiation time with the Senate. More extensions could be on the horizon.
"While we supported the extension approved today to prevent a shutdown of essential infrastructure improvements across the nation, that support should not be confused as acceptance of inaction on a multiyear reauthorization bill,” co-chairs of the Transportation Construction Coalition said in a joint statement. “Our members are growing increasingly frustrated that Congress seems incapable of passing critical legislation that improves the flow of commerce and promotes economic growth.
“The construction industry continues to suffer from chronic unemployment and the continued delay in enacting a longer-term bill prohibits them from expanding their workforces and investing in new equipment. It is unfortunate that a program that has traditionally enjoyed strong bipartisan support is being used as a means to advance political instead of policy objectives.”
During House deliberations on March 29, Democrats argued that the passage of the 90-day extension would kill up to 50% of road and bridge jobs set to run this summer.