US President Barack Obama’s $60 billion transportation bill – part of the larger $447 billion Rebuild America Jobs Act – was voted down by the Senate yesterday by a vote of 51 yeas to 49 nays, nine votes shy of the support needed for the bill to proceed any further in the Senate. The bill also earmarked $10 billion for an infrastructure bank.
But a Republication version of an infrastructure bill, called the Long-Term Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2011, did not pass either. The bill, which is sponsored by Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, was rejected by a vote of 47 yeas to 53 nays. Senator Hatch is opposed to the White House plan, which he characterises as a piece of legislation that is heavy on bureaucracy and light on efficient solutions for America’s job crisis.
Senator Hatch’s piece of legislation is a variation on the National Environmental Policy Act and gives individual states some autonomy on transportation spending. It is unclear whether Senator Hatch will revise his bill or perhaps throw his support behind another proposal.
Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, who was a co-author of the bi-partisan BUILD Act, which was approved and included in the president’s Rebuild America Jobs Act, voted in favour of the White House bill.
As of now, Congress has not dedicated any time to evaluating the BUILD Act as a stand-alone measure, according to a spokesperson in Senator Kerry’s office.