Tuesday: VA secretary nomination, Highway Trust Fund

The Senate starts at 10 a.m. on Tuesday and will vote to confirm Robert McDonald to be Veterans Affairs Secretary at 2:45 p.m.

The Senate will vote on three more of President Obama’s nominations before moving to a bill that would extend the Highway Trust Fund through May.

{mosads}Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is allowing four amendment votes to the House-passed $10.9 billion highway funding bill.

One amendment is an alternative bill from Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) that would fund the federal Highway Trust Fund only until Dec. 31, so that Congress is under pressure to work on a long-term highway bill after the midterm elections.

Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) will also get amendment votes.

Without congressional action, the fund goes bankrupt next month, ending funding for infrastructure projects across the country.

The trust fund gets its money from the 18.4 cents per gallon gas tax, which has struggled to keep up with the need for infrastructure spending projects as cars grow more fuel-efficient.

Most of the costs of the House bill are offset through “pension smoothing,” which some senators in both parties have derided as a budget gimmick.

The House will vote on a measure to modify the Endangered Species Act. It will also vote on a series of bills under suspension of the rules, including a measure, H.R. 4709, to establish enforcement standards for prescription drug abuse.

— Cristina Macros contributed to this article.

Tags Highway Trust Fund Robert McDonald United States Department of Veterans Affairs

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