NEW YORK A last-minute measure to provide $10.9 billion to the federal Highway Trust Fund, allowing state construction projects to continue uninterrupted, was approved by Congress July 31.
The measure, which passed 81-13 in the Senate just ahead of the August recess, raises revenue by tweaking pension laws, among other things, and keeps the fund solvent until May 2015.
The bill was expected to pass earlier in July (amm.com, July 16), but disagreements between the Senate and the House versions delayed passage.
The American Iron and Steel Institute applauded the passage of the legislation, but said lawmakers have yet to devise a permanent solution for decaying U.S. transport infrastructure.
"The Highway Trust Fund is vital to a well-maintained infrastructure systema system that the U.S. steel industry relies on to move product and raw materials," AISI president and chief executive officer Thomas J. Gibson said in a statement. "While we are pleased Congress has acted to fund the Highway Trust Fund, a plan to ensure its future solvency must be identified."
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) could have cut payments to states by up to 30 percent beginning Aug. 1 if the emergency measure failed to pass, delaying projects and putting 700,000 jobs in jeopardy.
Public transportation and highway investment across the country could have been shut down, according to the American Public Transportation Association. "It is essential that Congress stay focused on completing its work to advance long-term federal legislation," the association said.