Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidOvernight Finance: Trump threatens NAFTA withdrawal | Senate poised for crucial Puerto Rico vote | Ryan calls for UK trade deal | Senate Dems block Zika funding deal The Trail 2016: 11 hours, 800 pages, 0 changed minds Senate faces critical vote on Puerto Rico MORE (D-Nev.) announced a deal with Republicans on Wednesday that paves the way for a final vote on a bill to fund federal transportation projects through next spring.
The deal will allow votes on an alternative bill offered by Sens. Barbara BoxerBarbara BoxerCalif. Dem missed votes, sit-in on trip to Spain Hispanic Caucus PAC looks to flex its muscles in 2016 Dems who sat out the sit-in offer array of reasons MORE (D-Calif.), Tom CarperTom CarperWhite House seeks distance from ISIS transcript edit White House: Redaction decision was all Justice Dem senator: CDC already has authority to study guns MORE (D-Del.) and Bob CorkerBob CorkerGOP senator: Something 'very, very good' can come from Brexit vote GOP senators: Brexit vote a wake-up call Bipartisan gun measure survives test vote MORE (R-Tenn.) that would fund the federal Highway Trust Fund only until Dec. 31.
A final vote on the underlying House bill, which is backed by the White House, could come Thursday.
The House bill would provide $10.9 billion to fund projects. It would use a number of offsets to pay for the costs of the bill. Without action by Congress, the fund would have gone bankrupt next month, ending funding for projects.
“Allowing the Highway Trust Fund to run dry would slam the breaks on critical infrastructure projects across the land,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron WydenRon WydenSenate faces critical vote on Puerto Rico Reid backs House Puerto Rico bill Obama official pledges 'adjustments' to controversial Medicare proposal MORE (D-Ore.) said. “It is nonnegotiable that Congress is going to prevent that from happening.”
The trust fund gets its money from the 18.4 cents per gallon gas tax, which has struggled to keep up with the need for infrastructure spending projects as cars grow more fuel-efficient.
Most of the costs of the House bill are offset through "pension smoothing," which some senators in both parties have derided as a budget gimmick. Those senators want to only extend funding until December so that Congress is under pressure to work on a long-term highway bill after the midterm elections.
“Many claim that budget gimmicks should not be used as offsets to pay for spending.” Corker said. “I have long been against the disgraceful practice of spending money today and paying for it in the future. It’s shameful, it’s irresponsible, and it’s generational theft.”
— Keith Laing contributed to this article.