Congress overwhelmingly backs 5-year transportation bill

Posted on December 7, 2015 09:57 am CST



Congress has overwhelmingly approved a 5-year, $305 billion bill to address the nation's aging and congested highways and bridges after years of stymied efforts. 

The bill was approved 359 to 65 in the House, and 83 to 16 in the Senate. Senators from Missouri and Arkansas split on the bill. Democrat Claire McCaskill of Missouri, and Republicans Roy Blunt of Missouri and John Boozman voted for it. Republican Tom Cotton voted no. In the House, Billy Long, Vicky Hartzler and Jason Smith of Missouri, and Steve Womack of Arkansas voted for it.

Support for the 1,300-page bill was helped by the inclusion of a generous sprinkling of industry favors, parochial projects, safety improvements and union demands.

“Strengthening our transportation network is vital to boosting economic growth, creating jobs, and increasing competitiveness in Missouri, and across the nation,” Blunt said. “Because Missouri is a hub for our nation’s railways, highways, and waterways, it is imperative that our transportation planners and industry have the long-term certainty they need to promote investment, ensure the safety and reliability of existing infrastructure, and expedite the permitting process for new projects. The bill passed by the Senate today represents the longest highway authorization in more than a decade, and I am glad we can finally move forward with infrastructure improvements that will benefit Missouri’s families and small businesses, and provide a foundation for the 21st century economy.”

Boozman added, “For the first time in ten years, we have a long-term highway bill that will allow Arkansas and other states to provide certainty for important infrastructure improvements, which are so vital to our economic well-being. Hundreds of Arkansas projects were at risk of cancellation or further delays if a long-term bill was not passed. Each year, Arkansas produces over $80 billion goods and products that depend on our highways for delivery to customers, so it is vital that this money is returned to our state to improve our infrastructure.”

The bill boosts highway and transit spending and assures states that federal help will be available for major projects. It doesn't include as much money or last as long as many lawmakers and the Obama administration would have liked. Nor does it resolve how to pay for transportation programs in the long term.

The bill now goes to President Obama.


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