Senate tires of patching highway programs, seeks long-term funding fix before year's end

The Senate has delivered an unexpectedly strong vote in favor of taking action later this year to resolve the chronic funding problems that have bedeviled highway and transit programs.

The 79 to 18 vote Tuesday may be a sign that Congress has reached the limit of its patience with short-term fixes.

The bill provides $8.1 billion to keep the federal Highway Trust Fund — the chief source of highway and transit aid to states — solvent through December.

Supporters said that's enough time for Congress to return to work after the November election, when partisan fervor will have cooled, and make the politically difficult decisions on whether to raise federal gas taxes or find some other means to shore up the fund.