After several years, House gets on road to long-term highway bill

What's more, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) said he would write a letter to House GOP leaders asking for an immediate conference with the Senate, which has passed a two-year bill with bipartisan support.

"Today we will go take this to conference," Mica said on the floor. And when asked by Democrats whether he would help with the letter asking for a conference, Mica said, "Not only will I sign the letter, I will draft the letter asking … going to conference and appointment of conferees."

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Earlier in the debate, several Democrats indicated they would support the bill, and Transportation and Infrastructure Committee ranking member Nick RahallNick RahallSolution needed: Rail congestion is stifling economic growth Lobbying World Dem files Ethics complaint on Benghazi panel MORE (D-W.Va.) said his impression was that supporting this last extension would lead toward a multi-year extension.

"Taking the other side at their word, that they are serious about moving the process forward, and I'm beginning to think that may be a likely scenario, passage of this extension of current law through the end of the fiscal year will allow us to go to conference with the other body on their bipartisan multi-year bill which passed with the support of three-quarters of the Senate," he said.

Democrats had recoiled against the House GOP's original plan, which they said would gut spending on key highway funding priorities. But they welcomed the short-term extension for not including these cuts.

The bill does contain language that would require approval of the Keystone oil pipeline, although this is language that could fall out during the House-Senate conference.

Democrats also indicated they could support some of the three amendments up for a vote later Wednesday, before the extension is approved.

One of these, from Rep. Charles BoustanyCharles BoustanyCongressman offers tax bill to help small businesses The Trail 2016: The road ahead Overnight Regulation: Republicans move to block financial adviser rule MORE (R-La.), would ensure that the harbor maintenance tax is used only for the Army Corps of engineers for dredging purposes.

Rahall said he could also support an amendment from Rep. David McKinleyDavid McKinleyCoal Country’s top lawyer takes on Obama’s EPA Coal country rages against fall Conservatives fail to strip cyber text from spending bill MORE (R-W.Va.) that would ease Environmental Protection Agency regulations on coal-fired power plants.

The third, from Rep. Reid RibbleReid RibbleWho will be winners in Wisconsin? Our pundits weigh in Ten House seats Dems hope Trump will tilt Cruz adds Wisconsin congressman’s endorsement MORE (R-Wis.), is meant to speed up environmental approval of highway projects.

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