Amid ongoing wrangling among Democrats over two massive spending bills, President Joe Biden on Saturday signed a temporary extension of federal highway funding after the stop-gap measures was sent to his desk by the Senate, according to The Hill.
Biden’s move was necessitated by the failure of Democrats in the House to reach a compromise on passing a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package championed by the president, after which the Senate took steps to pass a 30-day extension of the funding, as the New York Post noted.
Funding for the Highway Trust Fund expired on Thursday, something which forced the furlough of approximately 3,799 employees and spurred prompt action in both the House and Senate to pass a short-term authorization once it became clear that the two hotly-debated spending measures that have divided progressive and moderate Democrats would not be brought forward for votes.
House Democratic leadership had fully expected to have the bipartisan infrastructure bill approved well in advance of the highway funding’s expiration, but continued battles with far-left factions in the party scuttled any prospects for such an outcome, according to the Post.
In attempting to walk a fine line between appeasing the progressive wing of her party and securing passage of at least one key pillar of Biden’s domestic agenda, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) succeeded only in angering moderates by again delaying a vote on the smaller spending bill.
New Jersey Democrat Rep. Josh Gottheimer blasted the speaker’s decisions, saying that she had “breached her firm, public commitment to Members of Congress and the American people to hold a vote and to pass the once-in-a-century bipartisan infrastructure bill.”
Jim Tymon of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation joined in the criticism of what occurred, saying, “Yesterday’s inaction on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act isn’t just disappointing – it lapses our highway, transit, and highway safety programs and halts work on vital transportation infrastructure around the country, which is detrimental to our economy and the quality of life in our communities,” the Post added.
With temporary highway funding in place for another month, Pelosi has a little bit of breathing room to continue negotiations with the warring factions within her party, and progressive Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) – one of the holdouts who thwarted the speaker’s previous timeline for votes – has already acknowledged that her side will need to lower the overall cost of the massive “human infrastructure” packaged sought by the far left.
In an apparent admission that the clock is ticking for her to achieve results, Pelosi said on Saturday, “There is an October 31 Surface Transportation Authorization deadline, after last night’s passage of a critical 30-day extension. We must pass [the bipartisan infrastructure bill] well before then…”, but whether she can bring about the needed intraparty consensus to do so, only time will tell.