The Senate adjourned on Friday, Feb. 26, without extending SAFETEA-LU. The most recent extension expires on Feb. 28.
With no funding funneling through, operations at the U.S. DOT and FHWA will cease until the Senate can move on an extension, which will not happen until March 2 at the earliest. States also will not be reimbursed for federal road and bridge projects.
At the center of this stall is Kentucky Sen. Jim Bunning, who launched a filibuster on the night of Feb. 25 in objection to the way Congress was planning on paying for a 30-day extension of unemployment benefits. Bunning's delay clogged the movement of other legislation, including a measure that would extend the highway program. The Senate has been in favor of a 10-month extension, while the House has opposed such a move.
“It is simply unfair for one senator to attempt to hold the Senate hostage,” Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said in a statement.
Meanwhile, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.) is leading a group of about two dozen House members against the Senate’s maneuver of treating $932 million in grants as part of the 10-month extension. The move, which was included in the $15 billion jobs bill passed earlier this week, would give the majority of the grant money to just four states.