Eye Opener: Congressional delay forces DOT furloughs
Updated 11:54 a.m. ET
Happy Monday! Federal funding for major road construction projects and national anti-drunk driving campaigns dried up Sunday night amid Congressional gridlock.
Lawmakers failed to reach agreement last week on tax credits, unemployment insurance for roughly 400,000 Americans and a short-term extension of the Highway Trust Fund. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said Sunday that he expects Republicans to go along with a vote this week to pass the $10 billion package despite objections from Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.), who objected and delayed the bill.
"Senator Bunning supports this bill," his spokesman Mike Reynard told The Post on Saturday. "He believes it is essential that it should pass. But the bill must be paid for. If we can't find $10 billion to pay for something that all 100 senators support, we will never pay for anything."
Bunning's objections mean the Transportation Department must furlough roughly 2,000 starting today at the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Research and Innovative Technology Administration.
“I am keenly disappointed that political games are putting a stop to important construction projects around the country,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement late Sunday night. “This means that construction workers will be sent home from job sites because federal inspectors must be furloughed.”
Construction will stop on the $50 million 9th Street Bridge replacement project in the District and the $36 million Humpback Bridge replacement on Northern Virginia's George Washington Parkway because federal inspectors cannot report for work. NHTSA employees working with advocacy groups on safe driving programs including the "Click it or Ticket" and anti-texting campaigns will have to stay home. (The furlough doesn't impact NHTSA employees working on the recent Toyota safety recalls and investigations are not impacted, DOT said.)
LaHood informed employees about the furloughs in a department-wide e-mail sent Sunday: "I very much regret the hardship that this will cause to those employees and their families," he said.
DOT workers not impacted by the furlough should report to work as normal. Impacted employees and their families may visit www.dot.gov or call the numbers listed below for updates:
• Federal Highway Administration: (866) 499-3637
• Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration: (800) 382-9067
• National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: (866) 841-1496
• Research and Innovative Technology Administration: (202) 366-0401
If you or someone you know is impacted by the furlough please let us know via e-mail. Please include your full name, real e-mail address, hometown and the agency.
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