Senate appoints negotiators for highway bill talks

Senate appoints negotiators for highway bill talks

Lawmakers in the Senate appointed negotiators for the upcoming conference on highway funding with House on Tuesday after voting to open up the bicameral talks. 

The chambers are hoping to hash out an agreement ahead of a Nov. 20 deadline for renewing federal road funding that is currently set to expire on that date. 

Leaders in the Senate appointed seven Republicans and six Democrats to sit in on the forthcoming negotiations with the House, including Sens. James InhofeJames InhofeSenate teeing up Mattis waiver Lawmakers play nice at Russia hacking hearing Senate chairman meets Trump’s EPA nominee MORE (R-Okla.) and Barbara BoxerBarbara BoxerTop Obama adviser signs with Hollywood talent agency: report 
Democrats vie for chance to take on Trump as California governor Feinstein to hold campaign fundraisers, a hint she'll run again MORE (D-Calif.), the top ranking lawmakers on the upper chamber's Environment and Public Works Committee. 

Lawmakers have expressed optimism that they will be able to reach an agreement in time to get a highway funding bill to President Obama's desk before the scheduled interruption in federal road funding. 

"Both the Senate and the House bills have many similarities that will allow for a very short conference period," Inhofe (R-Okla.) said in a statement while the House was finishing work on its version of the highway bill. 

"With this milestone, Congress should be able to send a bill to the president’s desk by Thanksgiving," he continued. "This will allow for our nation to avoid the Highway Trust Fund hitting a dangerously low level, which DOT Secretary Anthony FoxxAnthony FoxxToll roads poised to boom under Trump plan Transportation chief urges Trump to press forward on self-driving cars Five transportation issues to watch under Trump MORE warned would significantly affect the 2016 construction season.” 

Lawmakers are expected to work quickly to reach an agreement that can be approved by both chambers to get a highway funding bill to Obama's desk before the deadline next week. 

Both chambers have passed bills that would guarantee at least three years of highway and transit spending, but only if Congress can come up with a way to pay for the final three years. 

The highway bill that was approved by the House on Thursday calls for spending $261 billion on highways and $55 billion on transit over six years. The legislation authorizes highway funding for six years. The Senate passed a similar piece of legislation that contained three years' worth of guaranteed highway funding in July. 

The Senate voted 82-7 to begin bicameral negotiations on a potential compromise. 

Other Republican highway bill conferees announced on Tuesday by the House include Sens. John ThuneJohn ThuneSenate panel approves slew of tech bills Sanders set for clash with Trump’s budget pick Overnight Tech: Uber, AT&T beef up lobbying | Pai is new FCC chairman | Skype coming to WH briefings | iPhone maker floats B US factory MORE (R-S.D.), Orrin HatchOrrin HatchLive coverage: Trump's health pick has second hearing Obama's last law: Talent Act will enhance government efficiency McCain: Trump's withdrawal from TPP a 'serious mistake' MORE (R-Utah), John CornynJohn CornynMcConnell to force vote on Trump's State Department pick Trump continues to insist voter fraud robbed him of popular vote Trump hosts Hill leaders for ice breaker MORE (R-Texas), John BarrassoJohn BarrassoBooker is taking orders from corporate pharmaceuticals Graham to vote for Trump’s EPA pick Pruitt says his EPA will work with the states MORE (R-Wyo.), Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiCommittee to vote on Zinke, Perry nominations Tuesday Trump, GOP set to battle on spending cuts What we learned from Rick Perry's confirmation hearing MORE (R-Alaska) and Deb FischerDeb FischerSenate panel approves slew of tech bills U.S. Supreme Court’s 'Waters of the U.S.' gift to the Trump administration Right renews push for term limits as Trump takes power MORE (R-Neb.). 

Additional Democratic Senate highway bill conferees include Sens. Sherrod BrownSherrod BrownSchumer to Trump: Work with Democrats on infrastructure bill Senate committee clears Carson nomination Live coverage: Trump's health pick has second hearing MORE (D-Ohio), Bill NelsonBill NelsonSenate panel approves slew of tech bills Dems unveil infrastructure plan, reach out to Trump Schumer to Trump: Work with Democrats on infrastructure bill MORE (D-Fla.), Ron WydenRon WydenDems promise to stand up to FCC chair on net neutrality DeVos doesn’t know the ABCs of public education Live coverage: Trump's health pick has second hearing MORE (D-Ore.), Dick DurbinDick DurbinJustice requires higher standard than Sessions Warren burns Mnuchin over failure to disclose assets Trump Treasury pick to defend foreclosure record MORE (D-Ill.) and Charles SchumerCharles SchumerLive coverage: Trump budget chief faces two Senate panels McConnell to Dems: Work with us on GOP's 'formidable' challenges Democrats and the boycott of Trump's inauguration MORE (D-N.Y.).