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 InhofeFeds to consider renewed protections for bird species Trump’s nominees may face roadblocks ‘Covert propaganda’ in federal rulemaking MORE (R-Okla.) and Barbara BoxerBarbara BoxerTrucking riders ‘in the mix’ for short-term spending bill Lawmakers praise defense bill's National Guard bonus fix Schumer’s elevation to leader spells trouble for Democrats 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 FoxxFirst US flight to Cuba's capital in over 50 years lands in Havana Feds want ‘driver mode’ for smart phones Dems call for probe of company after Alabama pipeline blast 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 ThuneFight breaks out at FCC over 'zero-rating' data plans A political temper tantrum at the FCC Overnight Tech: Lawmakers look at US edge in artificial intelligence | Walden favored for Energy, Commerce gavel | Tech reaches out to Trump MORE (R-S.D.), Orrin HatchOrrin HatchMnuchin's former bank comes under scrutiny Trump’s economic team taking shape Huntsman considering run for Senate in 2018 MORE (R-Utah), John CornynJohn CornynLawmakers eye early exit from Washington Victims of Nazi Art theft need Congress to HEAR Overnight Cybersecurity: Last-ditch effort to stop expanded hacking powers fails MORE (R-Texas), John BarrassoJohn BarrassoGOP lawmaker outlines goal to repeal and replace ObamaCare Pressure builds on M ObamaCare funding case as others wait GOP unveils bill to block ObamaCare 'bailout' MORE (R-Wyo.), Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiPassing US-Canada preclearance would improve security and economy Overnight Energy: Dakota pipeline standoff heats up Trump's wrong to pick Bannon or Sessions for anything MORE (R-Alaska) and Deb FischerDeb FischerTrump’s Cabinet picks raise hopes for infrastructure package GOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election No. 3 GOP senator: I'll still vote for Trump MORE (R-Neb.). 

Additional Democratic Senate highway bill conferees include Sens. Sherrod BrownSherrod BrownSanders vs. Trump: The battle of the bully pulpit Fight over 'Buy America' provision erupts in Congress Trump’s economic team taking shape MORE (D-Ohio), Bill NelsonBill NelsonRed-state Dems face tough votes on Trump picks Feds allow GM to delay airbag recalls Florida governor won't serve in Trump administration MORE (D-Fla.), Ron WydenRon WydenSenate passes college anti-Semitism bill Overnight Finance: Trump takes victory lap at Carrier plant | House passes 'too big to fail' revamp | Trump econ team takes shape Senate Dems: Force Cabinet nominees to release tax returns MORE (D-Ore.), Dick DurbinDick DurbinLawmakers eye early exit from Washington Senators crafting bill to limit deportations under Trump Warren pushes Dems to get tough with Trump MORE (D-Ill.) and Charles SchumerCharles SchumerOvernight Finance: Trump takes victory lap at Carrier plant | House passes 'too big to fail' revamp | Trump econ team takes shape Anti-Defamation League: Ellison's past remarks about Israel 'disqualifying' Dems press Trump to keep Obama overtime rule MORE (D-N.Y.).