Senate charged to vote on funding bill

News AASHTO May 16, 2005
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After a second week of debate, the Senate was poised to vote on Tuesday on a $295 billion reauthorization of federal highway, h

After a second week of debate, the Senate was poised to vote on Tuesday on a $295 billion reauthorization of federal highway, highway safety and transit programs, some $11 billion higher than the bill approved by the House of Representatives.


The Senate, by a vote of 92-7, approved a cloture motion last week to bring the bill to a final vote, but consideration of a number of amendments still pending delayed final action until this week. Although a few votes were held late Monday, most of the remaining votes on amendments will occur Tuesday, followed by action on the managers' amendment and final passage. Last week Senate leaders indicated that another 20 amendments would be considered, with possible secondary amendments.


Despite continued warnings by administration officials that President Bush would be urged to veto any bill that exceeded $284 billion, the Senate last week approved by a voice vote a substitute manager's amendment to H.R. 3 that served to increase funding by $11.2 billion. The increase provided an additional 8.9 billion for highways and $2.3 billion for transit to propose a guaranteed total of $251.9 billion for highways and $46.6 billion for transit.


The managers' amendment also included several other significant changes to the bill, including:

* Increase to 15% the minimum increase in funding guaranteed to each state over the average amount received under TEA-21;


* Immediately increase from 90.5% to 91% the minimum rate of return each state gets on the taxes paid into the Highway Trust Fund, with the minimum rate of return increasing to 92% in 2009; and


* Raise the proportion of funding devoted to transit from 18.2% to 18.5%.


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