Hours after U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said he was doubtful a multiyear highway funding bill would make it through Congress this year, the Senate took a few minutes to offer up some reassurance.
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who chairs the public works committee, called LaHood informing him the Senate’s version of the next highway bill, a two-year proposal worth $80 billion for surface transportation, could be ready for a vote in the coming weeks. Two other Senate committees—commerce and banking—are expected to take action on the bill next week.
“That means that by the end of next week all the committees will have done their jobs,” Boxer said at a press conference on Jan. 26.
Meanwhile, the House was expected to pass along its 1,000-page multiyear highway bill, which stands at five years, $260 billion, to transportation committee members on Jan. 27. However, the delivery was being delayed.
Boxer warned the House to not fill its bill with very controversial items, and perhaps one of the biggest sticking points is a link to the expansion of domestic oil production. Boxer said if the increase involved areas already approved for drilling she would not object.
“If they start saying they want to drill in states that don’t want it, that’s very controversial,” said Boxer. “I’ve said many times to [House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman John] Mica to stay away from controversy.”