3/30/2012 1:00:00 PM
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Tom Biery/Trans Pixs
President Obama on Friday signed a 90-day extension of federal transportation funding that was passed by the House and Senate a day earlier, the Associated Press reported.
On Thursday, the House passed â€” and the Senate later ratified â€” a 90-day highway funding extension measure, avoiding a shutdown of public transit system and highway safety and construction programs through the end of June.
The 266-158 House vote included 37 Democrats and all but 10 Republicans, news services reported.
Without the extension, the federal government would not have had the power to collect fuel taxes that support transportation programs after Saturday, when the most recent extension was set to expire.
The Senate earlier this month passed a two-year, $109 billion highway reauthorization bill, and its voice vote approving the shorter-term House extension ensures there will not be a shutdown of federal transportation funding on Saturday.
The temporary extension funds transportation programs through June 30 and becomes the ninth short-term measure approved by Congress since September 2009, when SAFETEA-LU, the most recent long-term transportation funding law, expired.
The funding extension had been closely watched by American Trucking Associations and highway groups, which urged its passage.
â€œOur nation cannot afford a shutdown of the highway and transit program or a lapse in the excise taxes that support it,â€� ATA and several highway construction groups wrote in a letter sent this week to House members.
ATA spokesman Sean McNally said the group applauded the House and Senate action and â€œhope they will quickly return to the business of crafting a long-term transportation bill.â€�
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which oversees trucking rules, and the Federal Highway Administration would be â€œin complete shutdownâ€� and all reimbursements to states for construction projects and safety programs would have stoped had lawmakers not acted, Bloomberg reported.
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