Senate inches highway bill toward vote

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | Thursday, March 08, 2012

The U.S. Senate decided to vote on a total of 30 amendments to its two-year, $109 billion transportation bill this week, teeing up a possible vote on the bill as soon as next week.

Senators debated and cast votes on the first few amendments on Thursday, March 8, starting with those that were not related to the transportation package.

More than half of the amendments are relevant to the transportation bill, and OOIDA’s Washington, DC, staff is keeping an eye on several.

OOIDA issued a Call to Action to members to help influence votes on the three amendments specifically related to tolling. The Senate had not taken up those three amendments as of Thursday afternoon.

Voting was scheduled to continue Tuesday, March 13. Once the amendments are dealt with, the Senate could vote on the transportation bill package by midweek.

In the House of Representatives, lawmakers are still deciding what to do with their version of a multiyear transportation bill. What started out as a five-year, $230 billion bill at the beginning of the year could be pared down closer to what the Senate has proposed.

The House and Senate must eventually agree to language before a final bill can advance to the president’s desk and become law.

Unless a bill passes and becomes law before March 31 – which most insiders say is unlikely at this stage – Congress will be forced to extend current transportation programs and funding on a temporary basis.

This would be the ninth such extension required since the transportation law known as SAFETEA-LU expired in 2009.

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