The House bill, which keeps funding at the same levels as in the current authorization, was approved by a 266 to 158 margin, with 10 Republicans voting against the measure and 37 Democrats voting for it. The bill was later approved by voice vote in the Senate, averting a shutdown looming this weekend.
Opinions are divided as to who has the upper hand in future negotiations, as the partisan rancor will only increase as the election season draws near.
According to Zwillich, "Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters Thursday that leaders were putting 'final touches' on a GOP bill, complete with controversial energy production provisions that could include expanding oil drilling and fossil fuel exploration on federal lands including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska." However, it's important to note that in the months they've been working on it, the GOP has been unable to cobble together a bill that could pass their own ranks in the House.
"Senate Democrats, meanwhile, while frustrated over the House Republicans' refusal to take up their bill, Thursday expressed confidence that they have the upper hand on the speaker as he continues to hunt for a Highway Bill that can get enough Republicans to pass the House," notes Zwillich.