The U.S. Senate averted a last-minute shutdown by passing a short-term continuing resolution on Sept. 28 to fund the government through Dec. 9. The bill passed 77-21 with bipartisan support and the U.S. House of Representatives then passed the measure 342-85. Highway funding will remain flat for the next 10 weeks.
As part of negotiations to pass the legislation, the Senate will tackle funding for Flint, Michigan, water infrastructure improvements in the upcoming lame duck session of Congress. The bill also includes $1.1 billion to combat the Zika virus and sends $500 million to Louisiana and other states recovering from natural disasters.
“It is unfortunate, though not surprising that a funding patch is all that could be accomplished by this Congress,” said Michael W. Johnson, NSSGA president and CEO. “This is why it is so important that people working in the aggregates industry register to vote and elect candidates to Congress who will do their jobs and pass appropriations bills instead of short term funding patches. We all know how America’s roads, highways and bridges crumbled as Congress passed short-term extensions for surface transportation funding for 10 years.”
Members of the House also passed the Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA) in what was the last major vote before the elections. WRDA was supported by a bipartisan vote of 399-25 and will now move to a conference committee this fall. The House and the Senate versions differ in significant ways with multiple committees of jurisdiction so conferencing the two bills will involve many lawmakers. As NSSGA reported last week, WRDA was expected to sail through the House earlier this month but became caught up in the funding debate surrounding the lack of funding for Flint in the Senate continuing resolution. As part of a compromise to pass both pieces of legislation, funding for Flint was included in the House WRDA bill, although it is $50 million less than what is included in the Senate version.