U.S. Senate approves short-term highway funding extension

Reuters News
Posted: Nov 19, 2015 3:31 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate on Thursday approved a measure to keep federal money flowing to road and bridge construction projects through Dec. 4, giving lawmakers more time to reconcile competing long-term highway bills.

The measure was approved in an early afternoon voice vote, a spokesman for Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said, sending the short-term highway extension to the White House for President Barack Obama's signature. The same measure passed the House of Representatives earlier this week.

The vote came as lawmakers prepared to leave Washington for their Thanksgiving holiday break.

Lawmakers from the House and Senate have been trying to work out differences between two different transportation bills that would each authorize spending for surface transportation projects over the next six years but provide actual funding for only the first three years.

A negotiating panel met for the first time on Wednesday to read opening statements. Some lawmakers expressed hope they would be able to find guaranteed funding for longer than the three years.

The chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Bill Shuster, said the long-term bill would mark an end to some 36 extensions of the last long-term highway bill, passed a decade ago. “This is the last extension,” he said.

He said the full conference committee would reconvene after the Thanksgiving break, but the panel’s staff would continue to work on their differences.

(Reporting by David Morgan and David Lawder; Editing by Leslie Adler)