Senate Poised to Pass Transportation Bill
Prospects for passage of a comprehensive transportation authorization bill have brightened somewhat, with news that the Senate has resolved the process for final votes on the hodgepodge of amendments that were holding up a final vote on the bipartisan supported MAP-21. "Senate leaders came to a compromise agreement allowing for consideration of 30 amendments - 12 on non-transportation issues requiring a 60-vote majority for passage and 18 germane ones needing only a simple majority," writes Jordan.
"Votes will continue next week with pending transportation amendments, including a proposal to end dedicated funding for transit, allow states to 'opt out' of the federal program, and limit states to revenues equal only to their contribution to the highway trust fund. It is unlikely that any controversial amendments will be adopted."
In related news, in the House, Speaker John Boehner's last ditch effort to push for a $260 billion, five-year transportation bill, or even modified 18-month and two-year proposals, seems to have failed without enough support from his own caucus. It is likely that the House will end up voting on a version of the Senate bill.
However, according to Jordan, "[t]ime for a final deal is short. The current extension of SAFETEA-LU expires on March 31. It remains possible that another short-term extension might be enacted while work is completed on a two-year package."