When news broke that House Republicans were considering scaling back their surface transportation bill to 18 months from five years, it signaled a further eroding of members’ ability to offer an alternative to the Senate’s bipartisan plan.
But even the downgraded version appears to be failing to attract support. “Our members don’t think too highly” of the 18-month plan, Transportation Nation, a Web site covering infrastructure, quoted House Speaker John Boehner as saying on Thursday.
Boehner said the shorter bill is a “fall-back measure,” and the House is still pushing the five-year bill. Republicans haven’t determined the scale of the 18-month bill, nor have they placed a cost on the five-year transport bill after more conservative members last week rejected the $260 billion price tag.
“They’re going to try to jam it,” said Rep. Steve LaTourette, R-Ohio, about the 18-month plan. "They went backward because that’s what the conservatives said they wanted.”
A lobbyist who spoke on background said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is allowing debate on three Republican amendments to a two-year $109 billion transportation bill that has received bipartisan support. Once past, the bipartisan support the bill has in the Senate may be the key to acceptance by Republicans in the House.