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Senate passes highway bill, but rough road ahead in House

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First, members of Congress might have to pass a temporary stopgap extension of transportation funding, because the current authorization runs out at the end of March. House Republicans, who return from work in their home districts next week, might not be able to settle on how to respond to the Senate proposal before then.

Then, the House will have to pass an actual transportation bill. House Speaker John Boehner (R) of Ohio has said he will take up the Senate bill “or something like it” this month, unless Republicans can come to terms on their own version. Rifts in GOP ranks have scuttled two other bills – one a five-year plan and the other an 18-month offering.

These delays leave some businesses champing at the bit because the summer construction season is coming, and every day spent wondering about future funding is one that delays a shovel going into the ground.

Ken Anderson, the president of the Marshalltown, Iowa (population: 27,552), Chamber of Commerce sees a trickle-down effect in local projects. Funding is a “constant unknown that’s out there as we deal with our state [department of transportation] or our local streets and roads people, and it seems like they can’t make decisions about projects going forward,” Mr. Anderson says. "Or one if they make a decision then the funding falls apart and then it's delayed and we're chasing our tails."

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