The Senate rejected a motion to end debate on MAP-21, its two-year, $109 billion transportation reauthorization bill, by a vote of 54-44. Negotiations continue behind the scene on a list of amendments that will be allowed to be brought up for Senate consideration as part of the consideration of the bill.
The bipartisan work of four Senate committees, along with 37 bipartisan amendments, has been incorporated into one package that will be the vehicle for further debate. Discussions continue on how many and which additional amendments will be allowed for consideration. Both Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have indicated they are close to a deal.
Once agreement is reached on how to precede with pending amendments the Senate will move forward. The Senate hopes to complete action the week of March 11.
The House Republican leadership is working with the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee to redraft HR 7 in a manner that will garner sufficient votes for it to be approved by the House. All issues are being considered, including: length of time, funding levels, funding offsets, approach to transit funding, environmental review improvements, and program reforms.
Highway and transit program authorization expires on March 31. As with the last deadline, not only will spending authorization end but authorization to collect the federal motor fuels tax on gasoline and diesel will end as well.
Both the House and the Senate have said they do not want to approve another short-term extension and are therefore focused on enacting a longer-term measure before the March 31 deadline.