Senate Debating House’s $7B Trust Fund Fix, With 4 GOP Amendments

The Senate began debate this morning on the $7 billion rescue of the nation’s highway trust fund that was passed by the House late yesterday, with four GOP amendments slated for a vote.

The first proposal, from Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), would replenish federal highway programs with unused money from the $787 billion economic stimulus law, as opposed to funds from the general Treasury.

Vitter began by echoing a lament of many sustainable transport advocates — that the stimulus spent a paltry 3.5 percent on infrastructure — but came to a far different conclusion: "[L]et’s do real concrete shovel-ready projects," he said. "Let’s build roads and highways and bridges."

Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) offered an amendment similar to Vitter’s, suggesting that un-obligated stimulus money offset the estimated $7.5 billion in unemployment aid that is attached to the highway trust fund fix.

Another similar proposal was filed by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), while a technical tweak to highway contract authority was filed by Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO). Stay tuned for updates on today’s votes.

Late Update: The Senate has officially passed the $7 billion patch by a vote of 79-17. All four GOP amendments failed — although Vitter’s snagged two Democratic votes, from Sens. Ben Nelson (NE) and Blanche Lincoln (AR).

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

House GOPers Propose Filling Trust Fund With Stimulus Money

|
As their committee’s leaders butted heads with the Obama administration, a group of Republicans on the House transportation panel proposed to fill the $7 billion hole in the nation’s highway trust fund with unobligated money from the economic stimulus law. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) (Photo: SW Broward GOP) The bill, offered yesterday by Rep. Mario […]

Senate Tees Up Last-Minute Showdown on Transpo Funding

|
With just two work days left before the federal transportation funding source dips into the red, Congress is moving toward a high-stakes showdown over how to close the gap. Yesterday the Senate passed a bill to transfer $8 billion from the general fund to the Highway Trust Fund, which would keep things running until December […]

Senate Stimulus Action Leaves the Network Cold

|
Last week, the Streetsblog Network was tentatively hopeful about the way the stimulus package was shaping up in the House, as members of that body voted to approve an amendment from Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-NY, to add $3 billion for transit. How long will transit riders have to wait for some help? Photo by Oran […]