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 InhofeRepeal of Obama drilling rule stalls in the Senate GOP senator: EPA 'brainwashing our kids' A guide to the committees: Senate MORE (R-Okla.) and 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.), the top ranking lawmakers on the upper chamber's Environment and Public Works Committee. 

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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 ThuneMcConnell: ObamaCare 'status quo' will stay in place moving forward This week: GOP picks up the pieces after healthcare defeat Lawmakers want infrastructure funded by offshore tax reform MORE (R-S.D.), Orrin HatchOrrin HatchCan Trump rebound after failure on healthcare bill? Overnight Finance: US preps cases linking North Korea to Fed heist | GOP chair says Dodd-Frank a 2017 priority | Chamber pushes lawmakers on Trump's trade pick | Labor nominee faces Senate US Chamber urges quick vote on USTR nominee Lighthizer MORE (R-Utah), John CornynJohn CornynNo. 2 Senate Democrat opposes Trump's Supreme Court pick Top GOP senator: 'Tragic mistake' if Democrats try to block Gorsuch House GOP insists: We’re not giving up on ObamaCare repeal MORE (R-Texas), John BarrassoJohn BarrassoHow 'Big Pharma' stifles pharmaceutical innovation Making water infrastructure a priority Overnight Energy: Trump's Keystone XL approval coming soon MORE (R-Wyo.), Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiElle honors 10 at annual 'Women in Washington' event Five takeaways from Labor pick’s confirmation hearing ObamaCare repeal faces last obstacle before House vote MORE (R-Alaska) and Deb FischerDeb FischerLawmakers share photos of their dogs in honor of National Puppy Day Senators demand Pentagon action after nude photo scandal GOP rep scolds Gillibrand for tearing into Marine general over nude-photo scandal MORE (R-Neb.). 

Additional Democratic Senate highway bill conferees include Sens. Sherrod BrownSherrod BrownPath to 60 narrows for Trump pick Overnight Finance: Trump stock slump | GOP looks to tax bill for lifeline | Trump repeals 'blacklisting rule' | Dem wants ethics probe into Treasury secretary Dems question potential Kushner real estate deal with Chinese firm MORE (D-Ohio), Bill NelsonBill NelsonSenators offer tax bill aimed at helping small businesses Path to 60 narrows for Trump pick The Hill’s Whip List: 26 Dems are against Trump’s Supreme Court nominee MORE (D-Fla.), Ron WydenRon WydenDem lawmakers push for FCC to tackle major cellphone security flaw Dem senator wants ethics probe of Mnuchin ‘Lego Batman’ plug Overnight Finance: Trump stock slump | GOP looks to tax bill for lifeline | Trump repeals 'blacklisting rule' | Dem wants ethics probe into Treasury secretary MORE (D-Ore.), Dick DurbinDick DurbinNo. 2 Senate Democrat opposes Trump's Supreme Court pick The Hill’s Whip List: 26 Dems are against Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Gorsuch rewrites playbook for confirmation hearings MORE (D-Ill.) and Charles SchumerCharles SchumerMcConnell: ObamaCare 'status quo' will stay in place moving forward NRA launches M Supreme Court ad Senate about to enter 'nuclear option' death spiral MORE (D-N.Y.).