Congress has momentarily remembered who they work for, passing and sending an infrastructure bill in addition to a one year extension of low student loan rates to President Obama’s desk for signature.
The House voted 373 to 52 to approve the $120 billion, 27-month bill to fund highway projects. The attached student loan extension will prevent rates from doubling from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on July 1.
The Senate approved the package in a 74-19 vote.
Republicans had insisted on including a measure to move the Keystone XL oil pipeline forward. President Obama and Democrats opposed it, though, and it was ultimately omitted from the bill.
Instead, Republicans were able to use funds set aside for “beautification, bike paths, and sidewalk lighting” for higher priority infrastructure projects such as the national highway system instead. They were also able to keep funding at current levels.
The package also cuts the average review and permitting process for new infrastructure projects in half, done mostly by streamlining environmental reviews so they can run concurrently, something for which Republicans had also fought.