Congress scored the first of what could be a series of bipartisan year-end victories late Thursday night with the final passage of a $305 billion measure to fund roads, bridges, and rail lines.
The five-year infrastructure bill is the longest reauthorization of federal transportation programs that Congress has approved in more than a decade, ending an era of stopgap bills and half-measures that left the Highway Trust Fund nearly broke and frustrated local governments and business groups. President Obama will sign the bill into law, as it fulfills his long-running push for lawmakers to pass an infrastructure bill even though it is significantly less than the $478 billion he sought in his own plan earlier this year.
The Senate approved the highway bill on an 83-16 vote. All but two Democrats—Senators Elizabeth Warren and Tom Carper—voted for it. Among the 14 Republican opponents were three of the four presidential candidates serving in the Senate: Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Rand Paul. (Senator Bernie Sanders missed the vote.) The House cleared it, 359-65, earlier on Thursday. It won unanimous support from Democrats and opposition mainly from conservatives. Negotiators had struck a deal on the legislation only on Tuesday, but the House and Senate needed to act quickly before the Highway Trust Fund again ran dry.