The U.S. Senate on Nov. 1 approved a package of appropriations bills that includes funding for the Dept. of Transportation at levels similar to levels enacted in fiscal 2011. The Senate cleared the measure by a 69-30 vote.

H.R. 2112, which bundled three separate appropriations bills into one large package funding the the departments of agriculture, justice, commerce, housing and urban development and transportation through fiscal 2012, does not include the steep cuts in funding for federal highways that was approved by the House Appropriations Committee on Sept. 8.

The White House Office of Management and Budget says it supports the “baseline” funding approach for the federal highway programs, but notes that the administration is committed to working with Congress to enact the American Jobs Act, which includes $50 billion in transportation investments; a long-term surface transportation reauthorization bill; and legislation that would create an infrastructure bank, all of which would boost spending for the transportation sector.

The Senate transportation spending measure includes $550 million for TIGER grants, 23 million higher than the fiscal year 2011 enacted level. It also includes $41.1 billion for the federal-aid highway program to support investments in roads and bridges across the nation.

Moreover, the Senate bill provides an additional $358 million above the fiscal year 2011 enacted level for the transit “New Starts” program for new or expanded public transportation services.

In a statement, Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii), said, “It is my hope and my intention to move forward with additional appropriations bills this week, and to demonstrate to the American people that Congress is able to complete its work in a responsible manner. I urge my colleagues to continue in the current bipartisan spirit as we seek to move additional bills in the coming weeks. Building on the progress we have made this week will make it less likely that we will be forced to resort to an omnibus or year-long Continuing Resolution down the road.”