Reid looks to close out transportation bill Wednesday, then move to judicial nominations

A list of remaining amendments appears at the bottom of this story.

By 2:30 p.m., Reid said the Senate would start work on as many as 17 cloture votes on stalled judicial nominations. Republicans on Tuesday rejected Reid's strategy of calling for votes to end debate on these nominations, and said the plan appeared to be an attempt to make it look like Republicans were needlessly stalling these nominations.

Rep. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) did acknowledge a delay, but said this was due to the Obama administration's decision to recess-appoint several people while the Senate was not in recess. Alexander said this controversial move made it much more difficult to approve a wave of non-controversial judges at the end of last year, as the Senate would normally do.

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Alexander called on Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to reach an agreement that would let the Senate avoid taking up 17 consecutive cloture votes on non-controversial nominees. And shortly before 7 p.m., Reid said there were discussions on exactly that topic.

"We're working with various parties to see if we can work something out on those nominations," Reid said. "We hope we can. If not, we'll have those votes."

Earlier in the day, McConnell argued that Reid was setting up the votes to provoke a conflict where there was none, and suggested the Senate should move immediately to a House-passed bill removing capital formation obstacles to small companies.

The Senate adjourned immediately after Reid spoke, leaving the following amendments to the transportation bill for Wednesday:

• Sen. Bob Corker's (R-Tenn.) amendment to ensure that the aggregate amount made available for transportation projects for a fiscal year does not exceed the estimated amount available for those projects in the Highway Trust Fund for the fiscal year (#1810).

• Sen. Tom Carper's (D-Del.) amendment to provide states with additional flexibility (#1670).

• Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's (R-Texas) amendment to prohibit the imposition of new tolls on the federal-aid system, and for other purposes (#1568).

• Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) amendment to enhance the natural quiet and safety of airspace of Grand Canyon National Park and for other purposes (#1669, as modified).

• Se. Lamar Alexander's (R-Tenn.) amendment to make technical corrections to certain provisions relating to overflights of national parks (#1779).

• Se. Barbara Boxer's (D-Calif.) amendment to express the sense of the Senate that federal agencies should ensure that all applicable environmental reviews, approvals, licensing and permit requirements under federal law are completed on an expeditious basis after a disaster or emergency (#1816).

• Se. Rand Paul's (R-Ky.) amendment to permit emergency exemptions from compliance with certain laws for highway construction projects (#1556).