By Josiah Ryan - 02/17/12 09:04 PM EST
Both Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) suggested Friday there will be a clear path forward for the highway bill when the upper chamber returns from recess.
Their positive predictions represent progress from their outlooks earlier in the week when both leaders worried that extraneous amendments could sink the bill.
"Committees of jurisdiction are working side by side and across party lines to get the job done," Boxer said citing "positive momentum" on the bill. "We will begin our work in earnest when the Senate reconvenes after Presidents Day."
Boxer's analysis also came just hours after the bill suffered a minor setback when amendment offered by Reid that would have incorporated disparate parts from various relevant committees failed in a procedural vote, 54-42, on the Senate floor.
Reid dismissed the vote, saying all vested parties had already agreed to a replacement amendment that the Senate would take up shortly after it returns from the Presidents Day break.
"What we have just gone through here was to bring the highway bill closer to the end," Reid said. "There has been an effort made by members of the Commerce Committee to have another proposal ... I would hope that will be accepted and I am told that it will."
Reid also said he would continue to work across the aisle to pare the pending amendments down to a reasonable number that will receive votes.