House passes 90-day highway funding bill

March 29, 2012 at 3:44 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 29 (UPI) -- The U.S. House passed a 90-day highway funding extension Thursday, with Republicans effectively telling the Senate to take it or leave it.

The measure was approved 266-158 with 10 Republicans and 37 Democrats crossing party lines, The Hill reported. The Senate, where Democrats hold a slim majority, can adopt it, try to negotiate changes or insist the House pass its own two-year extension.

Debate in the House was rancorous with charges of bad faith on both sides. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., who chairs the transportation and infrastructure committee, said Democrats approved six similar extensions when they were in the majority in both houses of Congress.

Democrats accused Republicans of being ideologically blinkered or motivated by a desire to hurt President Obama.

"We're going to lose half of the proposed projects this construction season around America, tens of thousands of jobs, needed investment, because they got a bunch of bozos in their caucus that don't believe we should have a national transportation system," Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., said.

The White House called for a longer extension.

"While it is critical that we not put American jobs and safety at risk and hurt our economic recovery by allowing funding to run out, it is not enough for us to continue to patch together our nation's infrastructure future with short-term band-aids," the White House said Thursday in a statement. "States and cities need certainty to plan ahead and America's construction workers deserve the peace of mind that they won't have to worry about their jobs every few months."

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