Another day, another another twist in the House’s efforts to pass a transportation bill.
Yesterday’s postponed vote on a 60-day extension had initially been rescheduled for tonight, but that too will be scrapped, making it the third time the House has punted a vote on an extension in as many days. House transportation committee chairman John Mica told reporters today that he was still planning to bring a two-month stopgap to a vote, but then changed his tune according to Transportation Nation:
Minutes later, Mica returned to say he was “recalculating,” and that he would also file a 90-day straight extension to the existing highway bill. Mica had talked it over with GOP leaders and said the 90-day extension is what he “was told to do.” Republican aides said part of the issue was that a 60-day extension would likely expire while Congress was out of town on the Memorial Day recess, complicating efforts to get a House-Senate agreement on a final Highway bill.
The House Rules Committee will meet today at 5:30 to set rules for tomorrow’s debate and vote, which in all likelihood will only require 218 votes to pass. It would then go to the Senate, whose members are understandably bitter that their own two-year bill, which passed 74-22 in bipartisan fashion, will not be voted on in the House — but not so bitter as to close the door on an extension.
Transportation funding, as well as the federal gas tax, are due to expire at the stroke of midnight Sunday if no agreement can be reached on an extension. The House leaves for Easter recess on Friday, making tomorrow the last chance to vote on anything.