House Moves to Repay U.S. DOT Workers Furloughed by Bunning Filibuster

The House voted today to compensate nearly 2,000 U.S. DOT workers who were forcibly furloughed last week when Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) mounted a five-day blockade of legislation extending federal transportation spending for the month of March.

art.bunning.gi.pngSen. Jim Bunning’s (R-KY) one-man filibuster kept U.S. DOT workers off the job for two days. (Photo: CNN)

The repayment bill, passed without a recorded vote, would prevent the furloughed workers from getting a 20 percent salary cut in their next paychecks. The Senate must act on the bill before March 16 to prevent the cuts from occurring.

"When you are taking home $900
over a two-week period, a $300 cut can be devastating," House transport committee chairman Jim Oberstar (D-MN), the bill’s sponsor, said in a speech before its approval. "These cuts would be difficult enough in good economic times. Amidst the current economic downturn, they would be particularly painful."

Bunning argued that the extension of existing transportation law, which came coupled with five weeks of stopgap funding for unemployment benefits, should be fully paid for — despite his past support for similar unpaid extension measures. He ultimately relented after a tumult of media coverage began to give Democrats political momentum in their campaign against frequent Republican use of the filibuster.

The U.S. DOT compensation bill is fully paid for, Oberstar’s office said in a statement, thanks to a shift in already-approved spending authority for the agency.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Bunning Throws in the Towel, Congress Restores Transport Funding

|
Workers at the U.S. DOT and on transportation projects around the country are back on the job today after Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) lost his politically hazardous battle against a 30-day extension of federal infrastructure law and unemployment benefits. Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) (Photo: CNN) But while Republicans sought to distance themselves from Bunning’s five-day […]

Federal Transportation Law Expired Over the Weekend: What’s Next?

|
A new month begins today without rules in place to govern federal transportation programs, thanks to an objection by Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) to quick approval of a short-term extension of existing law. The Natchez Trace Parkway, where trail construction is set to stall today thanks to inaction on federal transport law. (Photo: TheFunTimesGuide.com) The […]

Last-Minute Deal Preserves Bike/Ped Funding. But For How Long?

|
UPDATED with comments from Sen. Tom Coburn’s staff. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) has relented on his push to strip Transportation Enhancement funding from the six-month surface transportation extension, clearing the way for Senate passage last night and a White House signature today. In exchange for releasing his stranglehold on the Senate (and the estimated 80,000 […]