Senate GOP brushes aside House highway bill

Senate GOP brushes aside House highway bill

Senate Republicans made it clear Wednesday that they won't just accept the short-term highway patch the House passed, and are still interested in a multi-year bill.

Finance Committee Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchBottom line Senate GOP divided over whether they'd fill Supreme Court vacancy  Five takeaways as panel grills tech CEOs MORE (R-Utah) told reporters that Republicans had carved out enough money to pay for about five years' worth of highway funding. 


"We're both going at it as best we can, and then ultimately we've got to resolve it, between the House and Senate," Hatch said. "And I think we will."

The House voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to patch highway programs into December, in the hopes of negotiating an international tax revamp that would also fund a long-term infrastructure bill. 

The measure united Democrats who backed the tax compliance measures that Republicans used to pay for their five-month extension and conservatives who viewed the vote as their best chance to block the Senate from reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank. 

Senate Republicans have said they would at least like to get the Highway Trust Fund past the 2016 election, and want to fund it multiple years.

But Hatch also said that about $30 billion worth of the Senate offsets — enough to fill the highway gap for maybe two years — would come out of the retirement program for federal employees. 

Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidKamala Harris makes history — as a Westerner McConnell goes hands-off on coronavirus relief bill Kamala Harris to young Black women at conference: 'I want you to be ambitious' MORE (D-Nev.) specifically objected to that sort of proposal on Tuesday. Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Watchdog report raises new questions for top Interior lawyer | Senate Democrats ask Trump to withdraw controversial public lands nominee | Border wall water use threatens endangered species, environmentalists say Watchdog report raises new questions for top Interior lawyer Trump signs executive orders after coronavirus relief talks falter MORE (Ore.), the top Democrat on the Finance Committee, declined to weigh in Tuesday on the GOP proposals to pay for a longer highway deal.

The Senate isn't expected to start debating the highway bill until next week. With only two full weeks left before the House breaks for August recess, that's raised the possibility that the Senate could wait until the last minute to give the House a longer highway bill that also revives the Export-Import Bank.

But Rep. Dave ReichertDavid (Dave) George ReichertWashington Rep. Kim Schrier wins primary Mail ballot surge places Postal Service under spotlight Bottom Line MORE (R-Wash.), a senior House Ways and Means member, warned the Senate against that idea.

"That might have been a strategy used in the previous make-up of the Senate," Reichert said, adding that he didn't think it was productive if "Republicans from the Senate side stick Republicans from the House side with a problem."

"Naturally, we want to show we can govern. And we need to do that together," Reichert added.