The House will vote this week on a three-month extension of federal highway programs, legislation designed to end a standoff between the House and Senate just before highway funds expire at the end of July.
Lawmakers exiting a closed-door GOP briefing told the Washington Examiner the House will vote on legislation that will extend federal funds for road and bridge projects until Oct. 29. The Senate will then be needed to clear the bill this week in order to clear it for President Obama's signature.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said he has discussed the proposal with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., but is not sure whether McConnell will accept it. A Republican aide said the three-month extension was selected to appease McConnell, who opposes a House-passed bill extending authorization for five months, until Dec. 18.
A three-month bill still falls far short of a multiyear highway funding bill the Senate is now debating and was hoping the House would approve before it adjourns for the August break at the end of this week. But Republicans leaders have made it clear that the House won't take up the Senate's giant bill, which is now even more objectionable to conservatives because it would bring the Export-Import Bank back to life.
"It's very difficult to do a transportation bill," Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., a former chairman of the House Transportation Committee, told the Examiner after exiting a meeting with Boehner.
House and Senate lawmakers are at odds over how to pay for highway funding. In the House, leaders are pushing for a plan that would use international tax reform to pay for the legislation, but Senate Republicans are wary of that plan. Their long term bill uses tougher tax enforcement and other ways to pay for the bill, including selling off U.S. emergency oil reserves.
"Right now the plan is to offer a three-month extension into October, then they can work out the differences," Mica said. "You've got to have time to go through the bill that's been proposed by the Senate."
Republican leadership aides in the Senate have not yet responded to requests for a comment about the deal.