House to vote on three-month highway bill, break for recess

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The House plans to approve a three-month highway spending bill on Wednesday and then leave town, forcing the Senate to approve the short-term measure to prevent a lapse in funding.

Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerDem drops out of race for Boehner's old seat Conservative allies on opposite sides in GOP primary fight Clinton maps out first 100 days MORE (R-Ohio) discussed the decision with his conference at a closed door meeting on Tuesday before confirming the news to reporters. 

"I want a long-term highway bill that is fully paid for," Boehner said. "That has been the goal all year and that continues to be the goal.

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"We've been trying to do this for four years. It's time to get it across the finish line."
The two chambers have been battling over rival highway bills for a week, with the House preferring a five-month extension approved earlier this month over the Senate’s bill, which would fund roads and other infrastructure projects for three years.

The fight has cut across both parties, with Senate and House Republicans pitted against one another, and Democrats also divided in the Senate.

House Republicans prefer the short-term measure because they want to buy time for negotiations with the White House over tax reform that could be used to pay for a longer highway bill. 

The new House measure, which was introduced late Monday evening, would extend highway funding until Oct. 29, 2015 — setting up a new deadline for Congress.  

“It will give us enough time for our committee to do our work, get something on the board and go to conference,” Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), who is chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said after he emerged from a closed door meeting with House Republicans on Tuesday morning. 

Lawmakers are facing a July 31 deadline for renewing the nation's transportation funding.  

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) crafted the upper chamber's bill, which could move toward a final vote on Wednesday. 

The bill includes a five-year renewal of the Export-Import Bank, which saw its charter expire last month. Winning the bank's renewal is a priority for the White House, Democrats and business groups, but is opposed by conservatives in both chambers. 

The House patch excludes a reauthorization of the controversial bank, but does include language allowing the Veterans Affairs Department to shift $3 billion within the agency to shore up a budget shortfall so hospitals and other facilities don’t close in August, aides said. And the legislation would ensure that veterans with service-related disabilities can use health saving accounts.