The long-stalled transportation bill is showing some movement. The measure would keep money flowing to the nation's highways, bridges, and other infrastructure and has been closely watched around the country.
Senators reached a deal on amendments to a two-year highway reauthorization bill, Senate leaders announced on Thursday morning. The agreement puts the bill on course for passage on Tuesday.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the agreement includes votes on 30 amendments. Voting is scheduled to begin at 2:15 p.m. and continue into Thursday evening and then resume next week.
The deal includes votes on several high-profile amendments. A proposal by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, to block EPA regulations on mercury emissions from industrial boilers may be the only amendment with a shot – though a long one – at passage. The chamber will also vote on dueling GOP and Democratic amendments on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline; an amendment by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., on eliminating duplicative government programs; and a proposal by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich, to crack down on offshore tax havens. All face 60-vote thresholds for passage.
But Senate action comes as the House remains stalled on how to proceed on its own highway reauthorization bill. Senate Democrats hope their action will force the House to eventually accept the Senate bill, or something close to it. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has called that a possibility in an effort to pressure House conservatives to accept an alternative House bill they have resisted.