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Posted at 12:19 PM ET, 11/09/2011

U.S. Senate panel OKs transportation funding plan

In a rare show of bipartisan agreement, a Senate committee unanimously approved a two-year transportation funding plan that would continue spending at current levels.

The more than $39 billion spending package sent to the Senate floor by the Environment and Public Works Committee will be coupled with two elements the will emerge from other committees to form a $109 billion two-year surface transportation bill.

The approval came with much self-congratulation by committee members for the bipartisan nature of their effort.

About half of the 16 members present embraced the mood by saying they would withhold potentially controversial amendments until the bill reached the Senate floor.

“The bill before us is completely bipartisan, so no one is going to think it’s perfect,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), the committee chair.

The bill relies on coming up with an additional $12 billion in revenue from a yet to be identified source.

The House has outlined a six-year funding bill but has yet to take action.

“If the House chooses to take a partisan route everyone will know that,” Boxer said afterward.

The bill is the first in two decades devoid of controversial earmarks. The nation’s transportation program has been funded through a series of continuing resolutions for two years, with the latest set to expire on March 31.

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By  |  12:19 PM ET, 11/09/2011

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