Bill stalls on Senate floor

News AGC April 26, 2005
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Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) brought the TEA-21 reauthorization bill to the floor for consideration but the motion to proceed was blocked by several donor state senators because they are not satisfied with the rate of return on the gas tax revenue to their states provided in the bill. A motion requesting a cloture vote was immediately filed.

The Senate was expected to debate the motion to proceed on Monday, April 25, and the cloture vote was set for 11:45 a.m. Tuesday, April 26. If the cloture vote was successful the bill could be debated the rest of the week. However, there is a chance that the bill could become embroiled in the larger debate in the Senate over judicial nominees which may happen next week as well.

Frist could still move during consideration of the highway bill to change Senate rules so Democrats could no longer filibuster judicial nominations. That would force the Senate's minority leadership to choose between passing the long overdue bill or following through on a threat to slow the chamber to a crawl in retaliation. The highway bill also could be delayed if conferees on the budget resolution complete their work and the resolution is then brought to the Senate floor. The Senate will be in recess the first week of May.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and ranking Democrat Max Baucus (D-Mont.) plan to offer an amendment that will increase spending by $5 billion to $15 billion over the course of the bill. Both Senators indicated that their proposal would not impact the federal deficit and will identify additional sources of revenue for the Highway Trust Fund to cover these additional expenditures.

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