Senate passes highway $ bill as deadline looms

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The Senate by voice vote Wednesday, Oct. 28, passed a bill that extends highway funding for just 22 days, until Nov. 20, moving the legislation from Congress to the White House for the president’s signature.

This is the third short-term patch in the calendar year and the 35th in the last decade, and it came just a day before the expiration of the current patch.

The short-term measure is intended to give lawmakers additional time to pass a long-term highway funding bill. The House currently has the policy portion of a long-term bill ready to be taken up by the full chamber, as it cleared the committee phase last week. The House bill still needs a funding mechanism, however, which may have to be taken up by the House’s Ways and Means Committee.

The Senate, meanwhile, passed a similar bill in July, which includes both the policy portion and three years of dedicated funding.

If the House proceeds with its version, the two chambers will have to form a joint committee to work out the differences in their respective bills. Each chamber will then need to vote again on the new bill.

Both bills, however, currently call for similar trucking regulatory reforms, like the removal of CSA scores from public view, changes to driver drug testing rules and a pilot program for under-21 CDL holders to drive interstate

Both bills also open the door for states to add tolls to existing Interstate lanes.