Baucus Pleads for Long-Term Highway Bill After Vote on Short-Term Extension

By Beacon Staff

Two weeks after the U.S. Senate passed a two-year Highway Bill, the U.S. House of Representatives elected not to pass the Senate version and instead approved a stopgap three-month extension of the transportation and infrastructure spending bill on Thursday.

The Senate, facing pressure from time constraints, also approved the short-term extension on Thursday. According to the Associated Press, “the government’s authority to spend money on transportation programs and levy federal fuel taxes expires on Saturday, leaving no time for a tug-of-war between the two chambers.”

After the vote, Sen. Max Baucus continued calling on the House to approve the two-year Highway Bill, which passed the Senate with a 74-22 bipartisan vote on March 14. Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, played a role in developing the Senate bill. He said it would create or sustain 14,000 jobs a year in Montana.

“With the start of construction season on its way, we were left with no choice but to pass the short-term extension today, but now is not the time for a yellow light,” Baucus said in a statement. “The Senate worked together for months and months to carefully craft a bipartisan plan that invests in long-term highway jobs without adding a dime to the deficit, and there is absolutely no reason we can’t give it the green light to start getting road crews on the job right now.”