I knew the House planned to send a short-term transportation bill up for a vote next week, right before the deadline of March 31, when US highway funds would expire. I didn’t realize until now that the House actually formally voted down the bipartisan Senate version of the bill yesterday:
House Republicans on Wednesday held ranks in defeating an attempt to force a vote on the $109 billion bipartisan transportation bill approved by the Senate last week.
With 10 days left until current transportation funding expires, House leaders said they plan to introduce legislation on Thursday that would continue transportation funding at current levels for 90 days. If approved, it would be the ninth such extension since the last long-term funding plan expired more than two years ago.
With the Obama administration and Senate Democrats pressing hard on Wednesday for approval of the Senate bill, Democrats in the House tried to append the Senate bill to unrelated legislation up for approval on the House floor. Their attempt was defeated in a procedural vote.
I’m not entirely sure from the context what vote they’re talking about, but this was the only motion to recommit that was up on the floor this week. As you can see, only Walter Jones (R-NC) voted with Democrats on the motion, with two Democrats crossing the aisle to vote no (Jared Polis and David Scott, for some reason). Another one went up today but that was after the filing of this story.
The point being, we’re headed for a real showdown. The House has now rejected the bipartisan transportation bill from the Senate. Harry Reid has said that he would not accept a 90-day extension and wants to see the Senate bill pass. Something has to give. It resembles the showdown over the FAA Authorization bill, which as you might remember came down to a two-week furlough for FAA personnel as funding expired. Eventually an authorization looking mostly like the Senate version passed, but it included some unrelated and craven weakening of labor laws so Republicans could say they “got something” out of the exchange.
I would imagine we’ll see something similar to that here. And that could mean that construction workers across the country – nearly 3 million, according to Democratic estimates – will have to stand down for the next couple weeks because of a political fight.