Congress to hash out transportation compromise

CALIFORNIA ROAD

Photo by Pedro Szekely via Flickr Creative Commons

Next week, nearly 50 Congressional lawmakers –- including California Democrats Barbara Boxer and Henry Waxman –- will sit down to hash out a transportation bill.

A two-year measure could emerge, even though the House failed to pass its own transportation bill. The five-year House bill would have used offshore oil leases for funding, and restrict spending to roads, not mass transit.

GOP leaders never put the bill up for a vote. Instead, the House passed yet another extension to the existing legislation. But that was enough to get it to conference, where lawmakers will try to merge the extension with the two-year bill passed by the Senate.

Democratic U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer of California says she’s optimistic her version will survive the conference.

She says the 2-year measure was "a bipartisan bill that passed the Senate. It’s very popular in country and it’s very popular in the Senate. The only place isn’t popular so far is in the House."

The House extension contains environmental items Boxer wants off the table, including the Keystone Pipeline.

Congress has until the end of June to find a compromise before the Highway Trust Fund runs out of money and highway construction comes to a halt.

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