biden: Biden signs bill ending furlough of 3,700 transportation workers

The Senate met briefly on Saturday to send a bill to President Joe Biden reviving key transportation programs that had lapsed two days earlier and bringing back nearly 4,000 furloughed workers. Hours later, Biden signed it.

The rare weekend session was necessary because Congress did not address expiring transportation programs when it passed legislation on Thursday to avert a government shutdown. Those reauthorizations had been included in a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that had been scheduled for a vote on the same day but never came up amid deep divisions among congressional Democrats over the measure.

Senators approved by unanimous consent a motion from Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. and the chairman of the Finance Committee, to extend the expiring transportation programs for 30 days and end the furloughs of 3,700 workers. The stopgap bill, which the House passed on Friday by a vote of 365-51, extends the programs through Oct. 31.

The Saturday vote capped an intense week at the Capitol, where Democrats tried and failed to advance a major piece of Biden’s agenda. The nearly 100-member Congressional Progressive Caucus blocked a vote on the $1 trillion infrastructure bill in the House, seeking leverage to secure passage of a larger $3.5 trillion domestic policy bill that Biden, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. and the majority leader, had assured the caucus would advance as part of a “two-track” process with the infrastructure bill.

The progressives’ stance forced Pelosi to delay a planned vote on the infrastructure bill and ultimately prompted Biden to side with them in saying that there could be no vote on that bill until agreement on the far broader, social policy and climate measure had been reached.

In a letter to lawmakers on Saturday, Pelosi urged passage of the infrastructure bill by the end of the month, and signaled that Democratic leaders were continuing to negotiate the broader social policy and climate bill with Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, two Democratic holdouts who are key swing votes needed to pass legislation in the Senate.

“Again, we will and must pass both bills soon,” Pelosi wrote. “We have the responsibility and the opportunity to do so.”

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