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Senate passes highway, transit programs overhaul

WASHINGTON — The Senate has passed an overhaul of transportation programs that’s intended to keep aid flowing to thousands of construction projects while also strengthening highway and auto safety.

Senators approved the bill by a 74-22 vote Wednesday, putting pressure on the House to act quickly.

The government’s power to collect about $110 million a day in federal gasoline and diesel taxes is set to expire March 31. Those taxes are the main source of revenue for highway and transit programs.

If lawmakers haven’t passed a final bill by month’s end, Congress would have to act quickly on a temporary extension to avoid the shutdown of thousands of projects and worker layoffs.

The two-year bill would spend $109 billion, and preserve or create 2.8 million jobs.