Senate Leaders Reach Deal on Transpo Bill, Setting Up Slew of Votes Today

The leaders of each political party in the Senate have reached a deal on their two-year, $109 billion transportation bill, clearing the way for as many as 10 votes on amendments to the bill later today.

With a deal struck, prospects for passage of the Senate bill have now improved dramatically. Majority leader Harry Reid had tried to bypass much of the amendment process with a cloture vote on Tuesday, but couldn’t assemble enough votes to move forward. Top Republican Mitch McConnell had indicated prior to that vote that he felt a deal was near, and urged his colleagues to vote “no” in order to give him more time to negotiate.

Reid and McConnell have agreed to bring 30 amendments up for a vote. Of those, 18 are “germane” amendments dealing with specific provisions already included in the bill, and 12 are “non-germane” and deal with oil drilling and the Keystone XL pipeline, among other things. The Hill is reporting that approximately 10 amendments will be voted on today, with the rest waiting until next week. T4America has also launched new amendment tracker that reflects the changes to the bill.

The germane amendments need only a simple majority to pass, while the non-germane amendments will require 60 votes, a tall order in the Democrat-controlled Senate. However, the Obama administration is already lobbying Democrats to oppose the Keystone XL amendment, perhaps an indication that it might have the votes to pass. Keystone XL has already passed the House as part of a domestic energy production bill.

The underlying bill for these amendments will be Reid’s 1500-page combination of the EPW, Banking, Commerce, and Finance titles. It is the same transportation bill that failed Tuesday’s cloture vote, but it has already been agreed to by “unanimous consent,” meaning that it doesn’t need a vote of its own to be the basis for today’s amendments.

Votes will be broadcast and webcast on C-SPAN2, and Streetsblog will be tweeting updates all day.

  • Potato

    “However, the Obama administration is already lobbying Democrats
    to oppose the Keystone XL amendment, perhaps an indication that it
    might have the votes to pass. Keystone XL has already passed the House
    as part of a domestic energy production bill.”

    I don’t think that’s how it works – both houses still have to vote again on the amendment on this bill…

  • Anonymous

    On NPR today they repeatedly referred to this as a highway bill in the context of creating jobs.  I wanted to throw my shoe at the radio, with my foot still in it.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Tomorrow’s Key Vote on Senate Transpo Bill Could Go Either Way

|
In interviewing a number of experts for an upcoming article about the prospects of passing a transportation bill, I’ve found a surprising amount of disagreement about whether the Senate bill will clear a key milestone tomorrow. Last week, Majority Leader Harry Reid finalized his “manager’s amendment,” combining all the major components of the Senate transpo […]

Day One of Votes: Senate OKs Two Amendments, Rejects Keystone Pipeline

|
After two consecutive failed attempts, floor votes are finally proceeding on the Senate’s two-year, $109 billion transportation bill. The votes come on the heels of an agreement between party leaders Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell, which will allow certain non-transportation-related amendments to be voted on. As part of the deal, those amendments will require 60 […]

How the House and Senate Transportation Bills Changed Overnight

|
The sun rose this morning on a landscape considerably different from the one described by not one but two articles Streetsblog published yesterday. Senate Bill Gets Bigger, Better, But Harder to Move Senator Harry Reid took a lot of business into his own hands yesterday, unveiling his updated version of the Senate’s “two year” bill (it’s […]

Transpo Bills Delayed in House and Senate as Congress Enters Recess

|
Both houses of Congress are in recess this week, putting off their mountain of unfinished transportation business until next Monday. The momentum carrying transportation bills forward in each chamber has eroded recently. Last week, the House split its transportation bill — the one that eliminates dedicated funding for transit, bicycling, and walking — into three […]

Live-Blogging the Senate Transportation Extension Debate & Vote

|
The House of Representatives passed a 90-day extension of transportation programs by a vote of 266-158 shortly before noon today. The Senate passed it soon after by an unrecorded voice vote, but only after several Democrats tried (unsuccessfully) to replace the extension’s text with that of their own two-year reauthorization bill. The extension is now […]