The U.S. Senate has approved the transfer of $8 billion from the government’s general fund to the Highway Trust Fund, which the Dept. of Transportation warned could be empty by the end of the month without immediate action. The Senate version of the bill will be reviewed by the House before being sent to the President to sign.

The bill, originally opposed by the Bush administration and many Senate Republicans, was deemed to be a necessary temporary solution to the budget shortfall by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters, who has urged passage of the bill.

“The Senate should be commended for acting swiftly to address the immediate needs of the trust fund,” Peters said. “The lesson is clear, it’s time to embrace a new approach to transportation that does not rely on high fuel consumption and instead directs funds where they are actually needed. Congress must eliminate the billions in wasted spending, thousands of unneeded earmarks and hundreds of conflicting and contradictory special interest programs in order to make sure states don’t face this situation again.”

“We applaud Congress for addressing this looming crisis in a bipartisan manner,” said Bruce Josten, U.S. Chamber of Commerce executive vp for government affairs. “But like patching a pothole, this is a short-term fix. Congress must develop a long-term solution when reauthorizing the surface transportation law next year. Every funding option must be on the table.”

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