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Posted at 12:30 PM ET, 03/14/2012

Senate passes highway bill, but House prospects uncertain


(Win McNamee - GETTY IMAGES)
A two-year, $109 billion measure providing federal funding for the nation’s roads, rails bridges and airports for the next two years passed the Senate on a 74 to 22 vote Wednesday with broad bipartisan support.

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

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By  |  12:30 PM ET, 03/14/2012

Tags:  Transportation, Transportation funding

 
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