Senate Moves Highway Bill Forward
Sen. McConnell contends that if the Senate can pass its highway bill quickly, the House may be persuaded to agree to a multi-year package. Photo: mcconnell.senate.gov
The Senate voted on Wednesday to move forward a bipartisan highway bill that had been blocked by a procedural vote just a day before.
That failed vote had come only hours after the measure had been introduced by its co-sponsors, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Committee on Environment & Public Works.
By a vote of 62-36, per a Politico.com news alert, the Senate voted to begin debate and to take up amendments to the Boxer-McConnell bill during a Wednesday afternoon session.
But with several senators having signaled they may seek amendments related to such divisive issues as repealing Obamacare, blocking reauthorization of the Export-Import bank and tightening abortion restrictions, it’s debatable whether Sen. McConnell can achieve his stated goal of getting the bill passed by this Sunday so it can be sent to the House for quick consideration.
The House has already passed a highway bill. But that measure is a short-term patch that will expire in December.
The Boxer-McConnell bill would reauthorize surface-transportation programs for six years. However, it is also a stopgap of sorts as it would fund projects only for the next three years – leaving it to the next Congress to determine how to fund the last three years the measure covers.
The majority leader had said on Tuesday that "I can't say the House will pass a long-term bill, and without raising the gas tax, but it is more appealing [to do that] than doing this again in December.”