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12/4/2015 5:55:00 PM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

President Obama Signs 5-Year Highway Bill into Law

John Sommers II for TT

The U.S. House and Senate easily passed a five-year, $305 billion highway reauthorization bill on Dec. 3 that would reform a safety performance scoring program for motor carriers and pave the way for employers to rely on hair testing to screen prospective truckers.

The House passed it by a vote of 359 to 65 and the Senate by a vote of 83-16. The Obama White House indicated it would sign the reconciled highway bill — the product of House- and Senate-passed transportation measures.

With funding authority for highway programs expiring Dec. 4, legislators had to act quickly to send the bill to the president to avoid a disruption across the country’s transportation system. (Update, Dec. 4, 5:15 p.m. ET: President Obama has signed the bill into law.)

For policymakers, the legislation signifies the culmination of years negotiating over provisions related to truck safety policy, railroad braking systems and infrastructure funding programs.

“Since I became chairman, one of my top priorities has been to pass a long-term surface transportation reauthorization bill. For the last year and more, I have traveled across the country, talked to transportation and business leaders about the need for a reauthorization bill,” said House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), the bill’s lead author.

Senators James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said in a statement: "We couldn't be more proud of the overwhelming vote today, because this legislation is essential for jobs, for our safety by rebuilding our roads and bridges, and for our economic standing in the world. We applaud our many colleagues who worked tirelessly alongside our committee through long hours and many negotiations to make this accomplishment happen. The FAST Act has enormous support throughout the country from businesses and workers alike, and we are so pleased that it is now going to the President to be signed into law."

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By Eugene Mulero
Staff Reporter

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