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Senate passes $295B Highway bill

Despite a White House veto threat, the Senate passed its $295 billion highway bill yesterday, 89-11.

The Safe, Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2005 bill would authorize funding for federal-aid highways, highway safety and transit programs. The Senate version includes $11 billion to provide additional revenue for the Highway Trust Fund as a result of an amendment offered by Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyPavlich: The claim Trump let the mentally ill get guns is a lie Congress fails miserably: For Asian-Americans, immigration proposals are personal attacks Grassley, Dems step up battle over judicial nominees MORE (R-Iowa) and ranking member Sen. Max BaucusMax Sieben Baucus2020 Dems pose a big dilemma for Schumer Steady American leadership is key to success with China and Korea Orrin Hatch, ‘a tough old bird,’ got a lot done in the Senate MORE (D-Mont.).

The bill will now move to conference, where it will face opposition from House GOP leaders who passed their companion legislation at the White House maximum in March. The House version of the bill would cost $284 billion over the next six years. 

Congressional leaders have received pressure from highway advocacy groups and the White House to reach a compromise, since the current highway funding extension will expire May 31. The current extension is the sixth in a series passed by Congress since the original act expired in 2003.

Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta has come out strongly against adding billions to the bill, calling the move “irresponsible” and “unacceptable.” He urged the Senate to adhere to the White House budget. House leaders have also urged conferees to pass a bill the president will sign.

Last year, the Senate passed a highway bill totaling $318 billion, but the bill stalled in conference.

A bipartisan group of senators voted against the bill, including Finance Committee member Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), John McCainJohn Sidney McCainLawmakers worry about rise of fake video technology Democrats put Dreamers and their party in danger by playing hardball Trump set a good defense budget, but here is how to make it better MORE (R-Ariz.), Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), Herbert Kohl (D-Wis.), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamCongress punts fight over Dreamers to March Pence tours Rio Grande between US and Mexico GOP looks for Plan B after failure of immigration measures MORE (R-S.C.), Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), John CornynJohn CornynLawmakers feel pressure on guns Kasich’s campaign website tones down gun language after Florida shooting Murphy: Trump’s support for background check bill shows gun politics ‘shifting rapidly’ MORE (R-Texas) and Judd Gregg (R-N.H.).

Jackie Kucinich