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Nearly 4,000 federal employees furloughed after Congress lets highway funding lapse


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By Gregory Wallace, CNN

Nearly 4,000 federal employees are off the job on Friday because Congress failed to extend highway funding, a Transportation Department spokesperson told CNN.

The funding lapsed as a result of lawmakers failing to vote on a larger infrastructure package as Democrats scramble for votes — though a plan may be in the works for a temporary extension of just the highway funding if necessary in order to mitigate the fallout.

LIVE UPDATES: The latest on infrastructure negotiations in Congress

Rep. Mark Takano, a Democrat from California, confirmed that House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio presented a plan to Democrats on Friday to advance a stopgap bill with Takano saying he “presumes” vote will happen Friday.

It’s unclear if lawmakers will move the stopgap Friday. No vote has been scheduled, as Democratic leaders focus on discussions between progressives and moderates for an agreement to vote in the coming hours on the larger roughly $1 trillion, bipartisan infrastructure package. The lapse in funding could be used as leverage in those negotiations to spur lawmakers into making a deal.

Progressive Caucus Chairwoman Pramila Jayapal told reporters Friday she was not worried about passing a separate highway extension bill because Congress has passed numerous short term extensions in the past.

But the lapse in funding is already having an effect. The furloughs impact “approximately 3700” employees, the spokesperson said, adding the administration “is continuing to work closely with Congress to swiftly reauthorize surface transportation programs.”

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials said the failure “lapses our highway, transit, and highway safety programs and halts work on vital transportation infrastructure around the country, which is detrimental to our economy and the quality of life of our communities.”

Jim Tymon, the group’s executive director, said it means “$50 billion of federal surface transportation programs supported by the Highway Trust Fund are being suspended.”

The issue impacts the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and the Federal Transit Administration, according to a DOT summary prepared earlier this week.

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CNN’s Melanie Zanona contributed to this report.

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