Boxer to Speak to Reporters, Address Cloud Over Conference Committee

Sen. Barbara Boxer is due to speak to reporters in about an hour about the goings-on in the conference committee. The mood has turned dark in the past few days, but she’s kept a positive attitude, saying, “It’s been wonderful.”

Boxer used the anemic jobs report yesterday to underscore the need to pass a bill that, she says, will create or save up to three million jobs. “I hope today’s numbers will lead House Republicans to work with the Senate on a bipartisan approach to fund the transportation bill at current levels, protecting three million jobs and thousands of businesses,” she said yesterday.

The clock is running out and everyone feels the pressure. Boxer has set a deadline of June 7 – two days from today – for the conference committee to pass a bill. That would leave enough time for both houses to vote on it and the president to sign it before the June 30 deadline. But House Republicans say they feel stonewalled on the provisions that are most important to them – “eliminating mandates in the Transportation Enhancement program and using environmental streamlining language that would speed up project delivery,” according to Politico. They say they don’t even know what to expect from the draft bill that’s expected to come out soon.

Meanwhile, Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) has introduced is planning to introduce a motion to instruct House conferees not to pass any bill that overspends the revenues to the Highway Trust Fund, bringing the debate back to square one, when the House cut transportation funding by a third and everyone hated it and the bill went nowhere. Broun’s rule would cut $15 million from the Senate bill.

No wonder some are pessimistic about the prospects for a bill. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has been hinting that yet another extension might be necessary.

We’ll have more after Boxer’s comments.