Senate passes highway bill, but House prospects uncertain


(Win McNamee/GETTY IMAGES)

Despite Senate passage, the fate of federal transportation funding is unclear in the House. House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio)hasn’t ruled out a vote on the Senate bill, but his aides said this week he is still negotiating details with GOP lawmakers.

The Senate bill’s supporters — Democrats, Republicans, labor unions and business groups — say the bill will help create or sustain almost 3 million jobs, mostly in the construction industry.

(For more details on the bill, read here.)

“This is a wonderful opportunity for the Senate and a great accomplishment for our country,” Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said, heralding the fact that one of the chamber’s most liberal members — Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) — and one of its most conservative — James Inhoffe (R-Okla.) — joined together to draft the bill.

But the talks in the House could delay final passage of a multi-year bill for weeks and force both chambers to pass a temporary extension beyond the March 31 expiration of federal transportation dollars.

The bill took weeks to pass the Senate and several days of votes on 30 amendments, including unsuccessful efforts to accelerate and approve the final construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

The Senate is expected to move next to confirmation of 17 federal district court nominees and passage of a bipartisan jobs bill that passed easily in the House last week.

Follow Ed O’Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost

Further reading from PostPolitics:

Why the show’s over for Newt Gingrich

Why 2012 is an anti-incumbent year

Can Congress be fixed? Lawmakers think so.

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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