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 (Jim) Mountain InhofeLincoln Project expands GOP target list, winning Trump ire Trump's contempt for advice and consent Senate GOP divided over whether they'd fill Supreme Court vacancy  MORE (R-Okla.) and Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerBottom line Polls show big bounce to Biden ahead of Super Tuesday Sanders poised for big Super Tuesday 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 Renard FoxxBig Dem names show little interest in Senate Lyft sues New York over new driver minimum pay law Lyft confidentially files for IPO 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 Randolph ThuneDavis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump Trump says he'll accept nomination from either White House or Gettysburg Meadows says he wants Trump nomination speech 'miles and miles away' from White House MORE (R-S.D.), 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), John CornynJohn CornynThree pros and three cons to Biden picking Harris The Hill's 12:30 Report - Speculation over Biden's running mate announcement Davis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump MORE (R-Texas), John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoDavis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump Senators ask for removal of tariffs on EU food, wine, spirits: report Latest Trump proposal on endangered species could limit future habitat, critics say MORE (R-Wyo.), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiBipartisan senators ask congressional leadership to extend census deadline Davis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump On The Money: Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire | Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks | Tax preparers warn unemployment recipients could owe IRS MORE (R-Alaska) and Deb FischerDebra (Deb) Strobel FischerCongress botched the CFPB's leadership — here's how to fix it White House, Senate GOP clash over testing funds Prioritizing access to care: Keeping telehealth options for all Americans MORE (R-Neb.). 

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