The Senate passed its fiscal 2008 Transportation-HUD spending bill by a wide margin Wednesday, after killing an attempt to waive federal wage rules for work on the nation’s most dangerous bridges.

By a vote of 88-7, the Senate capped three days of debate on the $104.6 billion bill (HR 3074), which would fund programs at the departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development.

The legislation will now go to conference with the House, which passed its version July 24. The two measures would provide similar overall spending levels — $104.4 billion in the House bill, compared with the Senate’s $104.6 billion.

Each would spend about $4 billion more than the White House requested. President Bush has threatened to veto either version.

It is unclear when conferees may meet. The legislation could still be folded into a multi-bill package of spending measures if Democratic appropriators see that as a useful tactic to circumvent a potential White House veto.

“We are on a collision course [with the White House] with spending on these,” said Christopher S. Bond of Missouri, ranking Republican on the Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee.

Although the Senate vote comfortably exceeded the two-thirds majority (67 votes if all senators are present and voting) needed to override a presidential veto, the 268-153 House vote did not.

Before final passage, the Senate voted, 56-37, to table, or kill, an amendment by Jim DeMint, R-S.C., that would lift federal wage rules for one year on projects that rebuild or repair bridges that are “structurally deficient” or “functionally obsolete.” The amendment would have applied to the so-called Davis-Bacon rules that require payment of a “prevailing wage” — typically a union pay scale — on federally funded contracts.

Fiscal conservatives perennially try to chip away at Davis-Bacon rules, arguing that they give preferential treatment to unions, are unfair to companies and cost the government money.

Davis-Bacon “forces particularly small companies to revamp how they bid projects and how they pay their people,” DeMint said.

Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., countered that the prevailing wage is simply the “average wage,” and that in some localities, Davis-Bacon actually saves the government money.

“It seems to me that it is our responsibility to make sure that our people who are working on these critical infrastructure ­improvements are paid the prevailing wage and given the opportunity to care for their families as they care for all of us,” said bill ­manager Patty Murray, D-Wash.

The Senate on Sept. 10 adopted an amendment by Murray that would allocate an additional $1 billion in grants to states for bridge repairs in fiscal 2008. The money would not be a regular appropriation; instead, the provision would raise the amount states could obligate from the Highway Trust Fund.

The bridge funding was added in response to the Aug. 1 collapse of a heavily traveled interstate highway bridge in Minneapolis.

Senators on Wednesday also nixed three amendments by Tom Coburn, R-Okla., that would have killed earmarks for upgrades to the International Peace Garden in North Dakota, a new baseball stadium in Billings, Mont., and a wetlands center in Lake Charles, La. The amendments were tabled en bloc, 63-32.

Also on Sept. 10, the Senate adopted by voice vote a manager’s package of amendments, mostly consisting of small programmatic changes.

Included in the package was an amendment that would set aside $100 million for HUD educational grants intended to help people with subprime loans avoid foreclosures. It also would require HUD to develop a listing of foreclosure mitigation centers.

Housing programs would receive $38.7 billion under the Senate-passed bill, which is $2.1 billion more than in fiscal 2007 and $3.1 billion more than Bush requested.

HOPE VI, which helps fund replacement of dilapidated housing in low-income neighborhoods, would receive $100 million, about the same as in fiscal 2007 (PL 110-5).

The White House has sought to kill funding for the HOPE VI program for the past five years. In its statement of administration policy, it argued that the program should be killed because it has already “accomplished its original goal of addressing the needs of the nation’s 100,000 most distressed public housing units.” But Congress shows no inclination to go along.

The community development fund, which helps localities build housing in low-income areas, would receive $4.2 billion, which is $408 million more than last year and $1.1 billion more than Bush requested.

The Senate bill would fund highway programs at $40.2 billion, or $1.1 billion more than enacted in fiscal 2007 and $631 million more than Bush requested. Amtrak would receive $1.4 billion, roughly equal to fiscal 2007 funding and $600 million more than Bush requested. The Federal Aviation Administration would receive $14.6 billion, a small increase over fiscal 2007.

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