With hopes of a compromise transportation bill fading fast, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer on Tuesday called on Republicans to pass anything but another extension.
"I don't think we ought to do an extension," Hoyer told reporters. "I think we ought to pass either a conference report or the Senate bill."
House Speaker John Boehner said on Tuesday morning that he, too, wants to pass a bill, which he planned to make plain in an afternoon meeting with Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Transportation Committee Chairwoman Sen. Barbara Boxer.
"I'm going to stress to Senator Reid and Senator Boxer that we want a bill, but we also are going to insist on reforming the process by which we spend the highway tax dollars that the American voters give us," Boehner said.
Still, a deal is a long way from done and both Democrats and Republicans seem to be spending more time blaming the other than negotiating.
Hoyer said Republicars are "hung up" on environmental issues, such as approving the Keystone XL Pipeline, which "are not intrinsic to the highway bill." Extending the current highway bill instead of passing a new one "will undermine confidence in the economy," Hoyer said.
The ninth extension of the current transportation bill expires at the end of this month, so lawmakers have little time to produce a compromise bill. If they fail to do so, they will most likely extend current authority a tenth time or risk halting infrastructure projects across the country.
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