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 BoxerAnother day, another dollar for retirement advice rip-offs Carly Fiorina 'certainly looking at' Virginia Senate run Top Obama adviser signs with Hollywood talent agency: report 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 BaucusChanging of the guard at DC’s top lobby firm GOP hasn’t reached out to centrist Dem senators Five reasons why Tillerson is likely to get through 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 ReidDraft House bill ignites new Yucca Mountain fight Week ahead: House to revive Yucca Mountain fight Warren builds her brand with 2020 down the road 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 InhofeTaiwan deserves to participate in United Nations Optimism rising for infrastructure deal Repeal of Obama drilling rule stalls in the Senate 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 JohnsonTim 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.