Transportation Department furloughs end
Max Cacas | FederalNewsRadio
March 03, 2010
Furloughs at the Department of Transportation have come to an end and employees are to return to work Wednesday.
In a press release Tuesday evening, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said, “I am pleased that the Senate has acted to break its logjam and extend the Highway Trust Fund for another 30 days. This means that our valued employees may return to work. It also means that their important work getting the economy back on its feet, ensuring Americans’ safety and keeping critical construction projects moving will be able to continue.”
Senate Democrats Tuesday evening reached an agreement with Senator Jim Bunning (R-Ky.), ending his objection to a short-term, stop-gap spending bill designed to fund a number of government programs. The bill was then signed by President Barack Obama. The bill passed the House last week.
Since last Thursday, Bunning had objected to consideration of a House bill which would have covered a long list of spending priorities, including: providing a one-month extension of funding for highway programs at the Department of Transportation; an extension of unemployment insurance; and also coverage of COBRA benefits for those out of work.
Bunning had insisted that any extension include spending offsets to keep the cost of the bill from adding to the national debt.
Earlier this week, DoT placed two-thousand workers on unpaid furlough because funding for surface transportation programs had expired on Sunday evening.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) has also called up a $100-billion-plus measure to provide a longer-term extension of unemployment benefits that would last through the end of the year, along with a full-year extension of higher Medicare payments to doctors, help for states with their Medicaid budgets and a continuing a variety of expired tax breaks for individuals and businesses.
Democrats promised to retroactively restore unemployment benefits and health care subsidies for the unemployed under the COBRA program.
The Senate is expected to begin debate on that measure on Wednesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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