Senate Transportation Bill Clears First Floor Vote, 85-11

The Senate picked the right day to make themselves look good by comparison.

Photo: AP

Today saw a massive mobilization of opposition to House Speaker John Boehner’s five-year disaster of a transportation bill, even as he defended it at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington. Meanwhile, the Senate voted 85-11 to move forward with Senator Barbara Boxer’s two-year reauthorization proposal.

“This is a good vote,” Boxer said after the votes were tallied. “Tell the House we have a bipartisan bill worthy of their consideration.”

It was the first real test for Boxer’s bill, sometimes called MAP-21, before the entire Senate. The bill is far from perfect, with bike/ped programs falling victim to program consolidation. It does give a small boost to transit operations and it does not rely on drilling for new revenue.

The pursuit of bipartisan support has been a hallmark of Boxer’s reauthorization efforts, even more than any specific policy goals. Before today’s vote was held, she expressed her hope for more than the 60 votes necessary to move forward, and in the end she received broad support from across the aisle.

The vote invokes cloture, which means the bill cannot be filibustered. No further amendments may be proposed to it, though Boxer acknowledged that a good number had been proposed already. One of those amendments, sponsored by Maryland Democrat Ben Cardin and Mississippi Republican Thad Cochran, would give local governments greater access to transportation funds — good news for the transit, bike and pedestrian projects that cities and towns like to build.

Subsequent votes will formally attach the titles passed by the Commerce, Banking, and Finance committees. A full vote in the Senate is expected some time next week.

The 11 Senators — including two Democrats — who voted “no” are after the jump. 

Mark Begich (D-AK)
Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
Jim DeMint (R-SC)
Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Mike Johanns (R-NE)
Ron Johnson (R-WI)
Mike Lee (R-UT)
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Rand Paul (R-KY)
Jim Risch (R-ID)
Marco Rubio (R-FL)

Full yeas and nays are available here.