After a six-week delay, Congress last night agreed to
repay U.S. DOT employees for the two days of work they missed when Sen.
Jim Bunning (R-KY) filibustered
an extension of the 2005 transportation law, forcing a temporary
shutdown of much of the federal agency's business.
The repayment language was attached to a larger measure that
temporarily extended unemployment benefits, which President Obama
into law this morning.
The House had
approved a stand-alone bill compensating the U.S. DOT workers last
month, but Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) held
it up in a bid to force Congress to pay the estimated $1 million
cost out of its own accounts, rather than using funds already
appropriated to the agency.
Nearly 2,000 employees were held off the job at the U.S. DOT while
Senate leaders navigated Bunning's blockade, which stemmed from his
insistence on paying for a separate unemployment benefits extension that
was attached to the transportation measure. The transportation law was
ultimately extended retroactively, and later until 2011 under a jobs
bill that President Obama signed last month.
“Restoring the lost pay is the right
thing to do," House transport committee chairman Jim Oberstar (D-MN),
sponsor of the repayment measure, said in a statement.