- The Senate passed a two-month extension for highway construction and other infrastructure projects by voice vote Saturday.
- The bill, which extends The Highway Trust fund's financing through July 31, had been approved by the House earlier in the week. It now goes to President Barack Obama, who is expected to sign it before the current stopgap measure's May 31 deadline.
- Despite the approval of the bill, both parties acknowledged a more permanent solution is necessary — rather than continuing the pattern of repeatedly passing temporary fixes. This short-term transportation measure marks the 33rd in the last six years.
The issue's sticking point has been the source of funding for the highway reserve, as lawmakers disagree over taxes and other revenue sources that could replenish the dwindling fund.
Experts predict Congress will delay the necessary debate on a permanent solution for at least another six months. Democrats have said Republicans need to focus on reaching that long-term goal, and have threatened to reject any more temporary extensions.
Construction and transportation officials have expressed their dissatisfaction with the stopgap measure, as it leaves future funding of major projects in limbo.
Bud Wright, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, told the Engineering News-Record: "We are disappointed and frustrated ... State DOTs are already postponing construction projects this year because they can’t count on federal funds to be there."