The Senate yesterday restored hundreds of millions of dollars in federal transportation spending singled out for elimination by the House of Representatives.
The Senate's continuing resolution -- which would set spending levels through the end of FY 2013 -- matches the transportation spending priorities laid out by MAP-21, the transportation bill hashed out in a bipartisan manner last year.
Top senators, including Barbara Boxer (D-CA), were alarmed when the House resolution, passed last week, called for spending cuts below what was agreed upon in the transportation bill -- $117 million for transit and $555 million for highways.
Senator Boxer, who chairs the Senate Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, told reporters her approach to restoring spending levels was "very straightforward."
"‘We said: 'How can you do this? It’s not right, we paid for this,’” she said.
Pressure from Boxer and other Senate committee chairs wasn't what clinched it, though: The Obama administration requested MAP-21 funding levels be honored, and the Appropriations Committee chair inserted that language into the bill.
Representatives of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials this morning applauded the Senate's decision.
"The Senate's continuing resolution recognizes that the nation's economic recovery remains dependent on the funding levels envisioned in MAP-21 and now is not the time to deviate from those levels," said Bud Wright, AASHTO executive director, in a press release.
The House and Senate versions of the continuing resolution must still be reconciled.