Countdown to passage of a highway bill

Senate Democrats tapped a well-worn gimmick Wednesday--a countdown clock.-- to pressure the House to vote on a transportation measure before current federal transportation funding expires March 31.

Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Mark Begich (D-Alaska) unveiled the latest iteration of the clock at a news conference.

Democrats in both chambers want the House to vote on the two-year, $109 billion transportation bill approved by the Senate. But House Republicans — facing pressure from tea party-aligned members — have failed at least three times in the last few days to bring the funding measure to a full vote.

The House is expected to pass a 90-day extension temporary extension of federal transportation funding Thursday, aides to Republican lawmakers say.

But the fate of such a short-term extension remains uncertain in the Senate.

Here’s what else is worth keeping tabs on today:

Bipartisan plan to cut deficit earns meager support in the House (by Rosalind S. Helderman in The Washington Post): The vote is a real disappointment for those who thought Congress could strike a grand bargain on cutting the deficit.

Tea party freshman Joe Walsh readies for tough fight (by David Cantanese in Politico): “Even before Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth had locked down the Democratic nomination last week, the blustery 50-year-old freshman Republican had begun framing his reelection contest against her in grandiose terms.”

GOP makes gains on Senate scoreboard (also by David Cantanese in Politico): “After a raucous February, Republican Senate candidates were on the rise in March, making gains in Nevada, Missouri, Ohio and Florida” in the publication’s monthly rankings of the most competitive races.

For Seven Hopefuls, Politics Is in Their Genetics (by Joshua Miller in Roll Call): “Attorney Joseph Kennedy III is one of seven sons of former House Members running for Congress this cycle, a group that will find out in the coming months the pluses and perils that come with being an ex-Congressman’s kid on the campaign trail.”

Inauguration Planning Under Way in Congress (by Emma Dumain in Roll Call): “Gathered in the ornate President’s Room just off the Speaker’s Lobby, the six members of the special Joint Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies met briefly [Wednesday] to designate itself as the organizing body of the swearing-in celebrations next January.”

What did we miss? Share your tips and links in the comments section below.

Follow Ed O’Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost

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Ed O’Keefe is covering the 2016 presidential campaign, with a focus on Jeb Bush and other Republican candidates. He's covered presidential and congressional politics since 2008. Off the trail, he's covered Capitol Hill, federal agencies and the federal workforce, and spent a brief time covering the war in Iraq.
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