WASHINGTON (May 18)—By a veto-proof 89-11 vote, the Senate approved a $295 billion, six-year highway funding authorization package that is $11 billion more than the Bush administration said it was willing to approve.
Many Republicans broke with the administration on the highway issue, saying the nation's infrastructure is too important to skimp on. The Tire Industry Association concurred, noting there have been six short-term extensions of the previous highway bill and that a full-fledged reauthorization is long overdue.
Traffic congestion costs the U.S. economy $70 billion annually in lost productivity and wasted fuel, TIA said, while poor road conditions add $400 annually to every U.S. motorist's repair bills.
The Rubber Manufacturers Association noted that the original Senate bill contained provisions to accelerate government action on federal bead unseating and road hazard testing for tires, but these were removed. It does require the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to report to Congress on its activities toward creating a tire aging standard, the RMA said.
The Senate soon will go to conference on the highway bill with the House, whose own version of the legislation kept to the $284 billion the administration requested.