Lawmakers try to save stalled transportation bill
By JOAN LOWY
Published: Tuesday, June 19, 2012 at 3:15 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, June 19, 2012 at 2:45 a.m.
House and Senate leaders are making a last-ditch effort to revive stalled legislation to overhaul federal transportation programs - Congress' best bet for passage of a major jobs bill this year - but prospects for passage before the November election are dimming.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, as well as two key committee chairmen, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., are scheduled to meet Tuesday to try to reach an agreement on how to handle a collection of sensitive policy and financing matters still in dispute.
A 47-member House-Senate committee has been holding negotiations on the bill for over a month, but they have been unable to reach agreement on a host of difficult issues, lawmakers involved in the process and their staffs said.
Time is running extremely short. Authority to spend money from the Highway Trust Fund - the main source of federal transportation aid to states - expires June 30. As a practical matter, congressional leaders need to make a decision by about Wednesday on whether to continue to try to pass a comprehensive bill, or whether seek a temporary extension of transportation programs. There are only about a half dozen days left in the month in which Congress is scheduled to be in session, and it takes time to prepare an extension bill and pass it.