The Senate passed a two year, $109 billion transportation bill on Wednesday in a bipartisan 74-22 vote. The bill, which would keep aid flowing to thousands of construction projects while repairing the nation’s aging transportation infrastructure, will now go to the House for approval.
Industry reaction was swift. Dennis Slater, the president of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), lauded the passage of the bill in this statement:
"AEM and its more than 870 member companies, their tens of thousands of employees, and the national grassroots I Make America campaign thank the U.S. Senate for working together in a bipartisan way to pass this critical two-year reauthorization of the highway bill. Passed by a resounding bipartisan vote of 74 to 22, S. 1813 reforms the way highway programs are administered, allowing for quicker and more efficient project approval, and provides a stable source of surface transportation funding, creating the certainty state departments of transportation need to plan, and American businesses need to invest, hire and grow.
We especially commend Sen. Barbara Boxer, chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, and Sen. James Inhofe, the committee’s ranking Republican, for their persistence, dedication and commitment to the spirit of bipartisan cooperation that has resulted in this well-crafted legislation.
There is no single piece of legislation pending before Congress that will do more to immediately create American jobs and sharpen our global competitiveness. Now that the Senate has acted so decisively and by such a wide bipartisan margin, the finish line is in sight, and AEM calls on the House to move immediately to the highway bill when it returns to session next week. Only 18 days remain until the current program extension expires on March 31st. The House must follow the Senate’s example, pass this legislation, and get America moving again."
Pete Ruane, CEO and president of the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), also approved the of the bill’s passage in his statement:
“Today’s overwhelming 74 to 22 vote in favor of the highway and transit investment bill is proof that bipartisanship is still alive in the Senate, and that Republicans and Democrats can find common ground on important policy issues that impact most Americans.
We thank Senators Boxer (D-Calif.), Inhofe (R-Okla.), Baucus (D-Mont.) for their steadfast leadership in getting the job done, and all of the senators who supported the measure.
The bill’s provisions to maintain highway and transit investment levels, including adjustments for inflation, will help provide stability for the transportation construction market in the immediate future.
The legislation also features a host of critical reforms ARTBA has advocated for years to speed delivery of transportation projects, build accountability in order to meet national goals, and provide greater flexibility to states in addressing their infrastructure needs.
“With the construction industry reeling from an unemployment rate that is more than double the national average, time is of the essence. It’s imperative that the House complete action on its surface transportation bill when it reconvenes the week of March 19 so that a conference committee can reconcile the differences and get a final measure to President Obama as soon as possible.”