The Senate on Friday sent to the White House a bill to fund highway and public transit projects. The same bill extends current rates for student loans that would have doubled unless Congress acted. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a transportation committee member helped write the transportation bill that he said would create jobs making badly-needed repairs to crumbling roads and bridges. A member of the Senate education committee, Sanders also welcomed the agreement on student loan interest rates.
The transportation funding bill that would provide almost $464 million to Vermont through 2014. "At a time when about one-third of the bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete and 36 percent of the federal-aid roads need major repairs, this bill will go a long way to putting Vermonters to work to address this infrastructure crisis," said Sanders (I-Vt.).
The Senate voted 74 - 19 to send the measure the White House. The House of Representatives earlier this afternoon had voted 373-52 for the bill. President Barack Obama was expected to sign the legislation before the current law expires tonight at midnight. Investments in roads and bridges and transit are one of the most effective ways to create jobs, Sanders said the projects funded by the bill will save more than 1.8 million jobs nationwide each year and create a million new jobs through an expanded infrastructure-financing program.
On the student loan issue, Sanders said, "Young people in Vermont and across the country are facing extraordinary challenges. They are paying three to four times as much as their parents did for a college education. With families already overburdened, it would have been awful to have let interest rates double."