Senate rejects amendment to allow states to opt out of federal transportation program

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) proposed the amendment and said it would create efficiency and "flexibility" states need to maintain their roads, bridges and highways "back at home."

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Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), however, pointed out the legislation's similarity to other amendments defeated earlier in the day and said it would "devolve the highway fund."

The highway bill also survived a second attempt by Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) to repair its failure to conform to the summer's Budget Control Act. Corker offered an amendment that would have offset spending for the highway bill by making $11 billion in across-the-board cuts in other areas of discretionary spending.

Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), however, raised a budgetary point of order against the amendment, which was sustained.