After the House rejected Senate changes, senators held their noses Thursday and voted 81-13 for a $10.9 billion bill to fund highway projects through May 2015.

Earlier in the week, the Senate voted to amend the House-passed Highway Trust Fund bill, changing the length of the extension to December to pressure lawmakers to come up with a long-term solution after the midterm elections.

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Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenThe first Southern state legalizes marijuana — what it means nationally A bold fix for US international taxation of corporations Democrats offer competing tax ideas on Biden infrastructure MORE (D-Ore.) said it would have been “legislative malpractice” for the Senate to simply accept the House version without attempting to put its own stamp on the bill, but in the end, there were enough senators to pass the House bill as is.

“Congress needs to act immediately to prevent a shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund … Thousands of jobs are at stake here,” committee ranking member Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchPress: Forget bipartisanship — it's dead! Privatization of foster care has been a disaster for children Remembering Ted Kennedy highlights decline of the Senate MORE (R-Utah) said ahead of the vote. “The only viable solution is for the Senate to take up the House bill and pass it. … We don’t have any other options if we want to get this done before the recess.”

The bill now heads to President Obama’s desk for his signature. The White House has said it would accept the House legislation but would have preferred a $302 billion four-year extension of highway funding.

Wyden said the House action was clear that it was “our way or no highway.” If the Senate hadn’t acted this week, the Highway Trust Fund would have gone bankrupt during the August recess.

The House’s nine-month extension relies on so-called “pension smoothing” — a proposal that budget experts across the ideological spectrum have dubbed a budget gimmick — and boosting customs user fees to extend highway funding.

But Wyden suggested that less money should be used out of both those policies, and instead use tax revenue to pay for the shortfall, such as increasing tax compliance on home mortgage interest.

Republicans have objected to the Senate approach, arguing Congress should not empower the IRS after its mishandling of applications for tax-exempt groups.

Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerHarry Reid reacts to Boehner book excerpt: 'We didn't mince words' Cruz on Boehner: 'I wear with pride his drunken, bloviated scorn' Boehner on Clinton impeachment: 'I regret that I didn't fight against it' MORE (R-Ohio) also pointed out that the amended bill the Senate sent back to the House had a $2 billion shortfall because of a typo in the legislation.

The trust fund gets its money from the 18.4-cents-per-gallon gas tax, which has struggled to keep pace with infrastructure spending. Some lawmakers have proposed raising the gas tax, which hasn’t been increased in more than 20 years, in a six-year funding bill in order to avoid more shortfalls in the future.

— Keith Laing contributed to this article.