House, Senate committees advance highway aid plans

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 10, 2014 at 3:34 pm •  Published: July 10, 2014
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Democrats and at least one Senate Republican, Bob Corker of Tennessee, have also criticized the bill for paying for less than a year's worth of transportation spending with revenue that is expected to be collected over the next 10 years.

The Senate bill also provides $11 billion, enough to continue programs through next May. Wyden said he favors keeping the pressure on Congress to pass a long-term bill this year, but agreed to provide more money at Hatch's insistence in order to gain Republican support for the measure.

An amendment by Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., to reduce the funding to $8 billion — enough to keep transportation programs going at current spending levels through Dec. 31 — was defeated by on a 14-10 vote. Most committee Democrats supported Carper, but several joined Wyden in voting against the amendment. Most of committee Republicans opposed the amendment, but three GOP senators — Michael Crapo of Idaho, Michael Enzi of Wyoming and Rob Portman of Ohio — voted with Carper.

Afterward, Wyden said he planned to get to work with Carper on a longer-term bill.

"This is front and center on my agenda," he said in an interview.

White House and transportation interest groups, including state and local officials, construction-related industries, transit agencies, labor unions and businesses that say the nation's aging infrastructure is hindering their products from getting to market and their employees from getting to work, also advocate keeping the pressure on Congress in an effort to get a long-term bill this year.

"Time is short and consequences of inaction are too high," Bruce Josten, the U.S. Chamber's chief lobbyist, said in a letter Thursday to Camp. "Congress must have - and seize - the opportunity to address a long-term revenue fix to the (trust fund) before year end."

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