Boehner told reporters that Republicans are putting "the final touches on that bill" and said the measure would be ready when lawmakers return in mid-April from a two-week spring break. Boehner added, "We will move quickly to move the highway bill...with our energy initiatives and ship it over to the United States Senate.”

In the days leading up to the March 29 votes, Senate Democrats, including Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (Calif.), had been urging Boehner to take up and pass the upper chamber's two-year, $109-billion bill.

Democrats contended that the 90-day extension would be a bad idea, cost thousands of jobs, prevent state agencies from moving forward on major projects and deplete the balance in the Highway Trust Fund.

But Boehner countered that the three-month extension is “the most responsible way forward" for now. He also said the House wants to pass its long-term bill and "as soon as possible," begin negotiations with the Senate on a final version.

But Boehner criticized the Senate bill, saying that some of its revenue-raising “pay-fors” were “gimmicks,” He also said the Senate measure would “run down” the trust fund's balance.

John Horsley, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials executive director, said, “The clock has been reset and we are optimistic that the House and Senate will use the time available to settle on a new, long-term reauthorization.” 

If no new bill had been enacted by April 1, FHWA would have been forced to shut completely, barring the agency from reimbursing states for costs they incurred on road and bridge projects, according to a U.S. Dept. of Transportation spokesperson.

In addition, DOT would have been unable to collect motor-fuel and other highway excise taxes, and 14.1¢ of the 18.4¢-per-gallon federal gasoline tax would have expired.

This story was updated on March 30.