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Transport Bill Trapped in House After Senate OK

Lawmakers under pressure to avert catastrophic shutdown.

by on Mar.15, 2012

The bill passed by the Senate would reportedly "maintain or create" 2.8 million jobs.

In a rare show of bipartisan support, especially as the presidential election nears, the U.S. Senate gave solid approval to a long-delayed federal transportation bill that covers everything from highway construction to the collection of gas taxes.

Capitol Hill lawmakers have been struggling since 2009 to come up with an update to the law, and the 74-22 vote actually just authorized another 2-year extension that would funnel $109 million into everything from road repairs to mass transit programs.  But even that compromise might not make it into law, Washington observers warn – adding that millions of jobs are at stake.

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The House of Representatives, led by Speak John Boehner, R-Ohio, has been struggling to approve its own transport bill – to no avail.  And even though the Republican speaker now says he’d be willing to consider the Senate’s language it is uncertain he can rein in enough of his own party members to push the extension through.

“If there was ever a piece of legislation that should not turn into a partisan fight, this is it,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.).