Major Transportation Bill Clears the Senate
The Senate on Feb. 12 voted to approve S. 1072, the "Safe, Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2003," or SAFETEA. The $318 billion, six-year program to reauthorize surface transportation programs was approved by a 76-to-21 margin. SAFETEA will reauthorize the "Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century," or TEA-21.
Proponents of the bill say it will create jobs and boost the economy, while its detractors rail against its high price tag at a time of dramatically rising federal budget deficits.
President Bush, who has been pushing for a ceiling of $256 billion for the highway bill, has threatened to veto the legislation if it exceeds that cost.
The House has yet to act on H.R. 3550, its $375 billion version of the highway measure, but it approved a four-month extension of the current law, which is set to expire at the end of the month. The Senate has not moved on the extension.