There's hope yet for a transportation bill, says Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif, the chairwoman of the conference committee tasked with producing a bill ahead of the expiration of current authority on Saturday.
"We are just a few issues away and I'm very optimistic," Boxer said on Tuesday. Boxer wouldn't address the specifics of the talks, but said she plans to meet with Conference Committee Vice Chairman Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., on Tuesday night. Boxer authored the Senate bill, which serves as the basis for 11th-hour conference committee discussions.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid struck a more cautious note on Tuesday morning, saying there are better than even odds of producing a full reauthorization, while pushing ultimate responsiblity onto his House counterpart, John Boehner, R-Ohio.
"I think chances today are better than 50-50 that we can get a bill done," Reid said. "But we're still looking at Speaker Boehner to help us get that over the finish line."
The Tuesday comments echoed those made by Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman James Inhofe, R-Okla., on Monday evening. "We made some major breakthroughs," he said. There is "light at the end of the tunnel."
Photo: Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., speaks next to a countdown clock during a news conference earlier this year. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)