After three years of temporary extensions, Congress has passed a $105 billion package to extend US federal surface transportation programs.
The two-year Surface Transportation Bill, approved on June 29, will sustain current levels of funding for the construction and repair of bridges, highways and other road projects in every US state until 2014. Many of those projects would have expired on June 30.
The bill passed Senate approval with a 74 to 19 vote after passing the House 373 to 52 and is expected to be signed into Law by President Obama on Friday, July 6.
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According to reports, officials anticipate the bill to provide the market with “much-needed certainty” for the next two years and maintain interest rates of 3.4 percent for subsidized Stafford loans for undergraduates. If Congress had not acted, interest rates would have doubled for new loans beginning July 1.
Obama and top senators involved in the negotiation including Democrat Barbara Boxer of California and Republican James Inhofe of Oklahoma voiced their support for the bill as a way to boost job growth in the construction industry.
Previous attempts by Congress were only able to pass on a series of short-term extensions including the previous transportation bill passed in 2005.
Although the recent agreement satisfies a variety of short-term reforms the House GOP has pressed for, officials continue to discuss potential sustainable funding mechanisms to combat the long term funding challenges that will continue to threaten highway investments.