Congress is getting closer to reaching an agreement over the surface transportation bill and aims to reach an accord by next week, according to a statement from Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Rep. John Mica, R-Fla.
The statement is the latest sign that the Senate and House might actually pass a bill before the highway funding extension expires at the end of the month. Senate Leader Harry Reid's and House Speaker John Boehner’s instructions to conferees earlier this week to wrap up work on the bill, and the House’s 386-34 vote on Wednesday echoing their orders suggest chances of passage have improved in recent days.
Disagreement over various issues, including approval of the Keystone XL pipeline and environmental streamlining, dampened many transportation advocates' hopes that Congress could hash out a bill by the end of the year. Growing political rhetoric ahead of the presidential election has further complicated negotiations.