Biden Signs Into Law Bill Extending Highway Funding for 30 Days Amid Infrastructure Bill Stalls

© REUTERS / LEAH MILLISReporters wait for members of congress to enter the building for a vote on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 30, 2021
Reporters wait for members of congress to enter the building for a vote on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 30, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 02.10.2021
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The stopgap funding bill that the two parties passed through Congress on 30 September did not cover a major part of the Department of Transportation’s funding, forcing it to furlough several thousand non-critical employees on 1 October.
US Senators earlier voted to extend the Highway Trust Fund programmes for another 30 days, effectively allowing the reopening of the Department of Transportation, which suffered a partial shutdown due to the lapse in budget authorisation on 1 October. Having cleared both congressional chambers, US President Joe Biden signed the measure into law late Saturday.
A bill for the extension of federal highway programmes for another 30 days passed the House with little opposition on Friday, but not all Republican senators were on board on the same day, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden announced on 1 October. Without unanimous support in the Senate, the bill's passage would take days, as 3,700 employees of the department remain furloughed.
"It is my understanding that the House is going to send the Senate a 30-day extension of the Surface Transportation Authorization Act. Republicans cannot clear it tonight. Therefore, we will come back tomorrow and try to pass it then".
Senator Ron Wyden is a leading critic of torture and other national security overreach. He's set to introduce legislation next year designed to ensure that the US government never tortures again.   - Sputnik International
Ron Wyden
Senate Finance Committee Chairman
The need for the Surface Transportation Authorization Act emerged due to a broad stopgap funding bill passed by Congress on 30 September that did not cover the Highway Trust Fund, which finances many activities of the Department of Transportation. While critical employees and operations, such as air traffic control, remained functioning, other workers and functions of the department were halted.
The lapse in funding and the need to pass stopgap measures arose from the conflict over the budget between the Democrats, who seek to pass Joe Biden's infrastructure bill, which costs over $1 trillion, and the Republican Party, which opposes uncontrolled spending, a major part of which is not covered by expected economic benefits from Biden's reform. The Democratic Party has the option of unilateral budget reconciliation, but in order to do that they need unity on the bill's parameters, which the party currently lacks.
Official residence of the U.S. President, the White House in Washington D.C. - Sputnik International, 1920, 01.10.2021
Despite Congress Passing Stopgap Funding Bill, US Government Couldn't Avert Partial Shutdown
The two wings of the Democrats, moderates and progressives, clashed this week over the infrastructure bill's contents. The moderates seek faster adoption and a smaller price tag, while the progressives demand the inclusion of several social welfare programmes. President Joe Biden inserted himself into the debate late this week and although House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reported progress havign been made, party members still haven't worked out a unified position on the bill's contents and price.
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