Sens. Boxer, Inhofe make push for short-term transportation bill extension

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“One of the best ways to spur job creation and economic recovery is through infrastructure investment,” Sens. Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerHispanic civil rights icon endorses Harris for president California AG Becerra included in Bloomberg 50 list Climate debate comes full circle MORE (D-Calif.) and James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeAllies wary of Shanahan's assurances with looming presence of Trump On The Money: Trump to sign border deal, declare emergency to build wall | Senate passes funding bill, House to follow | Dems promise challenge to emergency declaration Trump to sign border deal, declare national emergency MORE (R-Okla.), the chairwoman and ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, respectively, wrote in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidHarry Reid says he won’t make 2020 endorsement until after Nevada caucus Sanders hires veteran progressive operative to manage 2020 bid Constitutional conservatives need to oppose the national emergency MORE (D) of Nevada and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) of Kentucky.

“That is why a longer-term extension of the surface transportation program is so important to maintaining our nation’s vital bridges, roads, public transportation and other related infrastructure, restoring our economy and creating good jobs for American workers.”

Five senators joined Inhofe and Boxer in signing the letter: Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), Jay RockefellerJohn (Jay) Davison RockefellerSenate GOP rejects Trump’s call to go big on gun legislation Overnight Tech: Trump nominates Dem to FCC | Facebook pulls suspected baseball gunman's pages | Uber board member resigns after sexist comment Trump nominates former FCC Dem for another term MORE (D-W.Va.), Max BaucusMax Sieben BaucusOvernight Defense: McCain honored in Capitol ceremony | Mattis extends border deployment | Trump to embark on four-country trip after midterms Congress gives McCain the highest honor Judge boots Green Party from Montana ballot in boost to Tester MORE (D-Mont.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas).

For Boxer and Inhofe, the transportation bill offers an opportunity to come together after recent tension over climate legislation. Inhofe led a boycott of the committee markup of the bill sponsored by Boxer and Sen. John KerryJohn Forbes KerryWarren taps longtime aide as 2020 campaign manager In Virginia, due process should count more than blind team support Trump will give State of Union to sea of opponents MORE (D-Mass.) that would cut carbon emissions by 20 percent from 2005 levels by 2020.

Republicans said they wanted a fuller analysis of the bill’s potential costs from the Environmental Protection Agency. Democrats said GOP members just wanted to stall the bill.

Congress has been unable to agree on how to extend the existing highway bill. The House has pushed for a new $500 billion, six-year transportation bill, a big increase over the current authorization.

Boxer, Inhofe and others in the Senate have pushed instead for an 18-month extension of the current transportation legislation. At an impasse, Congress has maintained transportation programs through short-term extensions in continuing resolutions.

“Short-term extensions mean less money is available for states, and do not provide states the certainty they need to keep crucial transportation projects moving forward,” the letter states.

The senators are now pushing for a six-month extension of the current highway bill.

The cooperation between Boxer and Inhofe went beyond roads and bridges. The two were among a bipartisan group of senators that released the Economic Development Revitalization Act of 2009 on Tuesday. The act would reauthorize the Economic Development Administration, which provides development grants to communities with high levels of economic distress, at $500 million per year until 2013.