3/3/10 Update: Sanity prevails - Senate extends Highway Trust Fund; DOT employees back on the job Wednesday
Here’s a rundown of what happened: Late last week, Republican Sen. Jim Bunning filibustered a bill to extend federal unemployment benefits, arguing that the government needed to add a provision stipulating how it would pay the $10 billion tab. As a result, the Transportation Department has announced it’s going to furlough 2,000 employees (though it could be double that) without pay — including people like federal inspectors that keep state construction projects going. The job cuts will come from the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the Research and Innovative Technology Administration.
What else does this all mean? We’ll likely see a total shutdown of federal funding for road, bridge, bike-ped, and transit projects, since a short-term extension of the Highway Trust Fund was attached to the dead bill. The government will also halt the processing of funds for stimulus construction work, which means the remainder of the ARRA money will sit gathering dust. And to top it all off, the federal spigot will be dry for state-based road safety groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).