Reid: Odds better than 50-50 lawmakers will finish highway bill this week

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he sees a better than even chance that Congress will be able to complete a long-term highway bill this week.

"There is a possibility that we can get that bill done," Reid said on the Senate floor Tuesday morning. "I think the chances today are better than 50-50 that we can get a bill done.

"But we're still looking at Speaker Boehner to help us get that over the finish line."

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The House and Senate are known to be working on a highway extension that would have to be passed by this weekend, as federal highway authority expires June 30. But while the Senate has passed at two-year, $109 billion highway bill, the House has only approved a short-term extension, and House Republicans have indicated they want a bill that spends less.

Also Tuesday morning, Reid sounded optimistic that Congress will be able to approve a bill extending a low interest rate for federally backed student loans.



"I think there's a general feeling that we have worked out a compromise on that that's acceptable, with the help of Sen. Baucus, Sen. Harkin and others," he said. Reid did not, however, provide any details about what that agreement might look like.

Democrats have proposed paying for the $6 billion cost of extending the low student loan rate by subjecting more income to the payroll tax, while Republicans have proposed cutting a healthcare fund created under the 2010 healthcare law. The loan rate will double to 6.8 percent on July 1 without congressional action.


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