This week: Highways, water rule top agenda

Congress will turn to debates on the nation's infrastructure this week as lawmakers consider long-term highway funding and a controversial water regulation.

Only one major item is expected on the House floor so far during the first full week of newly minted Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanSaudi mystery drives wedge between Trump, GOP GOP group makes late play in Iowa seat once seen as lost Adelsons donated M in September to help GOP in midterms MORE's (R-Wis.) tenure. The House is expected to vote on a bill to spend up to $325 billion on transportation projects over the next six years - a departure from repeated last-minute temporary funding extensions.

Once it passes the House, negotiators will move toward reconciling differences with their Senate counterparts ahead of a Nov. 20 deadline.

ADVERTISEMENT

Congress has relatively little time to get a long-term highway bill done. The House is scheduled to be out on recess next week for the Veterans' Day holiday. And will face the Nov. 20 deadline the following week when they return.

Lawmakers sent a three-week funding patch to the president's desk last week, saying it will give the House and the Senate time to reach a deal on a long-term bill.

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeGraham: 'Game changer' if Saudis behind journalist's disappearance GOP senators ask EPA to block states that have 'hijacked' rule to stop fossil fuel production Pentagon releases report on sexual assault risk MORE (R-Okla.) said the two chambers should be able to quickly resolve their differences, saying: "I've talked to the likely conferees and they are in accord with the idea that we can do this in a matter of hours and not days."

The Senate passed a six-year bill earlier this year, but the measure only includes three years' worth of guaranteed funding. The House version, meanwhile, would require lawmakers to pass new legislation in order to access additional transportation funding after the first three years.

The House Rules Committee will meet Monday to set up general debate for the measure, and will meet the following day to decide which amendments get floor votes.

Water rule

The Senate will turn to a controversial water regulation from the Obama administration. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGraham: I hope Dems 'get their ass kicked' for conduct around Kavanaugh Saudi mystery drives wedge between Trump, GOP Overnight Defense: Trump worries Saudi Arabia treated as 'guilty until proven innocent' | McConnell opens door to sanctions | Joint Chiefs chair to meet Saudi counterpart | Mattis says Trump backs him '100 percent' MORE (R-Ky.) teed up a procedural vote for Tuesday afternoon on ending debate and proceeding to legislation from Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoWhy grizzly bear hunting season isn’t happening Trump poised to sign bipartisan water infrastructure bill Dems to force health care vote weeks before Nov. midterms MORE (R-Wyo.). 

His bill would force the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to go back to the drawing board on a rule defining the federal governments oversight of minor waterways under the Clean Water Act. It would also give the agency specific instructions and a deadline for writing the new regulation. 

The EPA's Waters of the United States rule has gained pushback from Republicans and some Democrats, who argue that it's an overreach that would allow the agency to have oversight of ditches and puddles. 

While the legislation has gained 46 cosponsors—including three Democrats—it's still short of the 60 it will need to overcome Tuesday's procedural hurdle. 

The Senate is also expected to turn to legislation from Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) that would use the Congressional Review Act — a procedural tactic to streamline blocking regulations — to overturn the EPA regulation.

That legislation—which has 49 backers—would also need to pass the House and also require the president signature, something that is unlikely to happen. 

Keith Laing contributed.