Senate invokes cloture on $109B transportation bill

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The wide margin in the Senate offered a stark contrast to what is expected to be a tough vote in the House on its version of the transportation bill, a five-year, $260 billion package.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) acknowledged the uncertainty of passing the transportation bill. Democrats have criticized the bill for being too stingy, while some conservative groups have said it spends too much money.

"Will it pass? For the good of the country, I sure hope so," Boehner said during a speech at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington on Thursday.

"But that’s not up to me, that’s up to the House," he quickly added.

In the Senate, Boxer and Inhofe were praising each other for working together on the transportation bill despite their disagreements on virtually everything else.

"How could you and I agree and feel so strongly about infrastructure when we have such diverse beliefs," Inhofe said to Boxer before the cloture vote.

"We could go on and on on these debates ... it'd be like 'Crossfire,'" Boxer countered. "But…we have decided to get a bill that is fair. We are here as partners in this bill. We are not partners in a lot of things."

The Senate transportation bill, which was approved by four Senate committees before Thursday's vote, includes a package of $9.6 billion in offsets from closing tax loopholes to supplement the roughly $36 billion per year that is brought in from the federal gas tax, the traditional funding source for transportation bills. 

Senate Democrats have chosen to pay for the new spending by closing tax loopholes to counter a House Republican proposal that would tie spending to revenue the federal government would gain from expanded domestic oil-and-gas drilling.