KGOU

Inhofe-Led Long-Term Transportation Bill Passes Senate On 2:1 Margin

Jul 31, 2015

The U.S. Senate easily passed a six-year highway bill yesterday that promises a huge boost in road and bridge funding for Oklahoma.

The state's senior Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe co-authored the bill with California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer. It passed on a 65-34 vote.

"That is the Senate speaking loud and clear across party aisles," Boxer said. "And now we're ready to work with the House and get the job done for the good of our workers, for the good of our businesses, for the good of the driving public."

But the bill still faces an uncertain future. House Speaker John Boehner and other GOP leaders in that chamber have criticized the measure, and left town Wednesday for a vacation that will last until Sept. 8.

Inhofe says the bill provides growth in highway and transit programs to each state.

"The public's behind us on this, "Inhofe said. "I don't care which of the 50 states you go to. They want a highway bill. They want their bridges and highways fixed."

Over the six years of the legislation, Oklahoma would receive an estimated $4.2 billion. The state would get $657 million in the fiscal year that begins October 1, $45 million more than for the previous year.

The bill will be funded primarily through the federal gas tax. However, to make up for declining revenue from the gas tax, the bill's funding would be augmented with money from the sale of oil from the nation's strategic reserve and tweaks in the tax code.

Inhofe has complained that past short-term patches to highway and transit programs have failed to provide certainty to states that must plan major projects.

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