Senate ends filibuster of TEA-21 reauthorization

News AP and New York Times February 12, 2004
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The U.S. Senate today voted to end a filibuster and thus cleared the way to a floor vote on the Senate’s version of the TEA-21 reauthorization, the Associated Press reported.

Conservatives had held up a vote on the bill saying the $318 billion bill was too expensive. The White House issued a statement yesterday threatening a veto of the highway and transit reauthorization bill if it did not come in below the current $318 billion Senate price.

"It is critical to exercise responsible restraint over federal spending in a manner that ensures deficit reduction and the administration looks forward to working with Congress to control the costs of this bill," the White House said in its official policy paper, according to a New York Times report.

Supporters of the bill said it was paid for by the Highway Trust Fund with money collected from 18.4 cents per gallon in federal gasoline tax.

"It does not add one red cent to the national debt," said Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.).

Sen. James Jeffords (I-Vt.) said the bill was about safety, worker productivity, family and fairness. "Most importantly, it’s about jobs. Jobs, jobs, jobs."

The reauthorization bill being considered in the House would provide $218 billion over the next six years. That bill showed little sign of being passed by the end of the month, when the current authorization bill is set to expire, so the House voted yesterday, according to the AP, to extend the existing highway bill again for four months through the end of June.

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