(March, 15, 2012) - On March 14, the Senate approved its $109 billion surface transportation and infrastructure bill, MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century), with a bipartisan vote of 74 to 22. It allows for funding to remain at current levels for two years. According to AEM (the Association of Equipment Manufacturers), this bill "reforms the way highway programs are administered, allowing for quicker and more efficient project approval... ."

The New York Times reported on March 14 that the Senate bill provided funding not through raising the gas tax, but rather "with an array of revenue provisions, tapping a trust fund established to clean up leaking underground storage tanks and adjusting the way pension fund contributions and liabilities are calculated."

But this issue is far from being resolved: this bill would still have to be approved by the House before the federal highway trust fund expires. With nearly three million jobs expected to be generated or saved, most of which are in the construction industry, the House cannot afford to sabotage some kind of resolution.

As the AED (Association of Equipment Distributors) reports, "With the expiration of the most recent highway extension set to expire on March 31, rapid action is desperately needed to keep federal transportation programs operational."

Read our earlier analysis of the infrastructure issue here.