House Bill Struggles for Support, Senate's is Mired with Amendments

The Latest from the House:

(The House Bill: American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act of 2012 (H.R.7))

In the House, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) is struggling to garner support for the House Transportation Bill. He said, "Look, I know some of you still have concerns about this plan. That's why I want you to have a chance to offer amendments, to have a full debate on the floor.

There is talk that the House may vote on the energy portion of the bill this week. As you recall, in an effort to overcome rising Republican discontent with the bill, Boehner broke the bill up into three parts: Energy and drilling, pension realignment and the transportation component.

The drilling portion includes expansion of offshore oil-and-gas leasing and would open Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling rigs.

Whether or not they do vote on it this week depends on a number of things, including how many of the amendments they can get through and the timing of the expected vote on the previously unscheduled payroll/unemployment insurance agreement.

While wider drilling development is seen by the GOP as a way to bring in more revenue to contribute toward the cost of the transportation bill, the Congressional Budget Offices estimates that the energy measures would pay for just a small portion of the transportation legislation. At a House National Resources Committee hearing, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the GOP's plan doesn't hold up to scrutiny. "We know that these places are not going to be developed in the near-term at all. They would only provide less than 10 percent of the revenue needed for surface transportation."

And, there is new opposition for the Keystone XL pipeline project; that opposition is coming from the tea party. While environmentalists and water supply activists have been expectedly opposed, the property-rights conservatives are banding together along the pipeline's proposed route in Texas.

The Latest from the Senate:

(The Senate Bill: Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (S.1813))

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) was frustrated with ongoing Republican attempts to force votes on other issues, so he used a procedural move to block amendments to the bill yesterday afternoon.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has said he won't let other amendments come up until he's promised a vote on his proposal to end U.S. aid to Egypt until 19 Americans (including LaHood's son) who have been detained for the past few weeks are allowed to leave.

People opposed to this includes Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who is leaving tonight with several others to go to Egypt to work to find a constructive solution to the current situation.

While the transit tax deduction did not make it as a part of the payroll tax deal, there is an amendment to get the benefit restored in the Senate's transportation bill. 

And some of the latest news from the Administration's proposed budget:

Despite the Republican-led House voting to eliminate all funding for high-speed rail in the current fiscal year's budget, Obama includes $47B for high-speed rail in the 2013 budget. The White House reiterated Obama's vision of high-speed rail access to 80 percent of the country by 2025.

Included in the budget would be a $15M cut to D.C.'s Metro. Cutting the Metro system's federal appropriation was included in reductions in "targeted areas."