US Senate Plans to Vote on Highway Bill on Saturday in Hopes of Ending Partial Government Shutdown

The stopgap funding bill that the two parties passed through Congress on 30 September did not cover a major part of the Department of Transportation’s funding, forcing it to furlough several thousand non-critical employees on 1 October.
US senators will reconvene on 2 October to try and pass stopgap funding for the Highway Trust Fund and thus reopen the Department of Transportation, which suffered a partial shutdown due to lapse in budget authorisation on 1 October.

A bill for the extension of federal highway programmes for another 30 days passed the House with little opposition on Friday, but not all Republican senators were on board on the same day, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden announced. Without unanimous support in the Senate, the bill’s passage might take days, as 3,700 employees of the department remain furloughed.
The need for the Surface Transportation Authorization Act emerged due to a broad stopgap funding bill passed by Congress on 30 September that did not cover the Highway Trust Fund, which finances many activities of the Department of Transportation. While critical employees and operations, such as air traffic control, remained functioning, other workers and functions of the department were halted.
The lapse in funding and the need to pass stopgap measures arose from the conflict over the budget between the Democrats, who seek to pass Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill, which costs over $1 trillion, and the Republican Party, which opposes uncontrolled spending, a major part of which is not covered by expected economic benefits from Biden’s reform. The Democratic Party has the option of unilateral budget reconciliation, but in order to do that they need unity on the bill’s parameters, which the party currently lacks.
The two wings of the Democrats, moderates and progressives, clashed this week over the infrastructure bill’s contents. The moderates seek faster adoption and a smaller price tag, while the progressives demand the inclusion of several social welfare programmes. President Joe Biden inserted himself into the debate late this week and although House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reported progress havign been made, party members still haven’t worked out a unified position on the bill’s contents and price.

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