Senate plans swift action on long-delayed transportation bill

Senate Democrats expect to pass a long-delayed surface transportation bill soon after they return to Washington next month.

Sen. Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerDems face hard choice for State of the Union response Billionaire Steyer to push for Dem House push Billionaire Steyer announces million for Dem House push MORE (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, said her colleagues have identified a list of offsets that could be used cover the final $12 billion of the bill’s cost.

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Shortly before Congress left town for the holidays, Boxer told The Hill that Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max BaucusMax Sieben BaucusSteady American leadership is key to success with China and Korea Orrin Hatch, ‘a tough old bird,’ got a lot done in the Senate Canada crossing fine line between fair and unfair trade MORE (D-Mont.) had put together a variety of proposals to push the legislation over the finish line. 

“There’s good progress going on,” she said. “He’s got a list of pay-fors but I’m not going to say what they are.” 

Senators had hoped to pass the $112 billion highway bill before the end of the year but were held up by uncertainty over the final offsets.  

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidDems search for winning playbook Dems face hard choice for State of the Union response The Memo: Immigration battle tests activists’ muscle MORE (D-Nev.) told reporters last week the legislation would be among his first priorities in 2012. 

Reid said the transportation bill and the Federal Aviation Administration bill “are paramount in my mind.”

“Very conservative [Sen.] Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeEPA's Pruitt: Bring back 'true environmentalism' Tax cut complete, hawks push for military increase Trump meets with oil-state GOP senators on ethanol mandate MORE [R-Okla.], quite progressive Barbara Boxer have come up with an arrangement to extend this for two years,” Reid said. “A very, very good bill.”

Boxer said she expected Sen. Tim JohnsonTimothy (Tim) Peter JohnsonCourt ruling could be game changer for Dems in Nevada Bank lobbyists counting down to Shelby’s exit Former GOP senator endorses Clinton after Orlando shooting MORE (D-S.D.), chairman of the Banking Committee, to mark up the transit portions of her bill very soon.

Johnson had planned to take up the bill in his committee earlier this month but postponed action.