Senate poised to pass two-year, bipartisan transportation bill
The Senate has been working its way through 30 amendments since last Thursday and should be ready for a final vote on long(ish)-term transportation legislation today in the Senate in the form of MAP-21. The two-year bill will extend transportation funding at roughly current levels and provide some sense of certainty to the transportation industry which is facing another funding expiration on March 31st. MAP-21 passed unanimously out of committee, is paid for and has many reforms and provisions that will help speed up project delivery and cut down on redtape.
Upon passage of the Senate bill all eyes will be on the House of Representatives where leaders have struggled to put together the 218 votes needed to pass transportation legislation in any form. The challenge is that the tea-party Republicans are against any federal spending while moderates and progressives will not except certain cuts to fundamental transportation modes like transit. One option being discussed is to allow for a vote on the Senate’s version of the transportation bill which could probably cobble together a handful of Republican votes and many Democratic supporters. Many in the Republican caucus would see this as Speaker Boehner handing the Democrats a victory despite the fact that the Senate version of the bill has strong bipartisan support.