Could this be it? We’re getting down to the wire as Extension No. 9 ends at the end of the month
Meetings have been going on between conferees for a transportation bill, sorting out the differences of the House H.R. 4348: the short-term extension that includes the XL Keystone pipeline provision and the Senate Bill, S.1813: the two-year, $109 billion extension.
The big news now is yesterday’s meeting with Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). They issued a joint public statement that progress has been made and the goal is to create a bipartisan highway reauthorization bill by next week.
And apparently, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was reportedly optimistic a highway bill would be passed before the expiration of the current extension. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) also said that he didn’t think there would have to be another extension.
If there is another extension, it hurts states where construction season is dictated by winter weather; close to 3 million construction jobs depend on the bill.
Apparently staff worked late into the night last night and there are still the several issues that are sticking points, including, of course, the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
The Republican House also want to consolidate some of the federal transportation programs, they want to drop a proposal to use gasoline taxes to pay for transportation enhancements (goodbye trails, walking and bicyling) and they want to speed up construction by streamlining environmental reviews of road projects.
Accordingto Politico, Boxer told reporters, "We have to first have agreement on the transportation bill. Once that’s done we have to get to all the other issues, so we’re working on the transportation part and we have about three or four issues that we’re negotiating and we’ll give an update tomorrow.”