House extends highway funding to Dec. 3 amid delayed infrastructure vote

House extends highway funding to Dec. 3 amid delayed infrastructure vote
© Greg Nash

The House on Thursday passed yet another short-term extension of highway and transit construction programs that are set to expire on Sunday in order to avert thousands of worker furloughs and halted projects.

Lawmakers similarly passed a short-term patch a month ago when House Democrats were unable to clear the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill that would renew the highway programs for five years. 

With House Democrats still split over strategy to pass both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and a social spending package, lawmakers punted on the infrastructure bill and instead passed the latest extension through Dec. 3 on a bipartisan basis in a 358-59 vote.

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Before adjourning Thursday, the Senate agreed that a highway funding extension would be deemed passed by unanimous consent.

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazioPeter Anthony DeFazioThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden talks up bright side beneath omicron's cloud DeFazio becomes 19th House Democrat to retire Thanks to President Biden, infrastructure is bipartisan again — it needs to stay that way MORE (D-Ore.) said the latest extension "will help provide additional time to work through the final resolution of a long-term surface transportation bill."

Dec. 3 is also when funding for the rest of the federal government and a debt limit extension expires.

DeFazio quipped that it will be "a momentous day around here."

Nearly 4,000 Transportation Department workers would risk furloughs if the highway funding were to expire. State and local transportation officials also warned last month that a lengthy lapse would result in delays of road and transit projects.

House Democratic leaders had wanted to clear the bipartisan infrastructure bill on Thursday to give President BidenJoe BidenMan sentenced to nearly four years for running scam Trump, Biden PACs Dole in final column: 'Too many of us have sacrificed too much' Meadows says Trump's blood oxygen level was dangerously low when he had COVID-19 MORE a legislative victory before he left for a Group of 20 meeting and an international climate summit in Europe. 

They also wanted to boost gubernatorial candidates in Virginia and New Jersey ahead of elections in those states on Tuesday. 

But progressives maintained that they needed legislative text, not just the framework unveiled by the White House earlier Thursday, for the social spending package to feel comfortable backing the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

“There is too much at stake for working families and our communities to settle for something that can be later misunderstood, amended, or abandoned altogether. That is why dozens of our members insist on keeping both bills linked and cannot vote only for one until they can be voted on together," Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalDemocratic caucus chairs call for Boebert committee assignment removal Five reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season 91 House Dems call on Senate to expand immigration protections in Biden spending bill MORE (D-Wash.), the Congressional Progressive Caucus leader, said in a statement.