WASHINGTON – The Senate voted Wednesday to overhaul transportation programs and keep aid flowing to thousands of construction projects while strengthening highway and auto safety.
The 74-22 vote stepped up pressure for quick action by the House because the government’s power to collect about $110 million a day in federal gasoline and diesel taxes, the main source of revenue for highway and transit programs, is set to expire March 31.
If a final bill isn’t on the president’s desk by then, Congress would have to approve a temporary extension to avoid a shutdown of the programs.
Efforts by House Republican leaders to pass their own, five-year bill without concessions to Democrats have fallen apart in recent weeks. The House returns next week from a weeklong recess.
The Senate’s measure would spend $109 billion over about two years. It would increase the amount of money available for states by raising current spending levels to take into account inflation over the past several years.