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Washington Beat: Road Construction Progress Threatened as Senate, House Bills Clash

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TWC News: Washington Beat: Road Construction Progress Threatened as Senate, House Bills Clash
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As federal lawmakers prepare to leave for their five-week long vacation, they're trying to strike a deal on a plan that would keep road construction alive through next month. The House and Senate are still at odds over a solution, however. NY1's Michael Scotto filed the following report.

Democrats in the Senate are urging the Republican-controlled House to pass their plan to shore up the nearly bankrupt Highway Trust Fund.

"Speaker Boehner will do what Speaker Boehner wants to do. We're respectfully asking him to allow a vote on the Senate bill," said Sen. Barbara Boxer of California.

Earlier this week, the Senate—with bipartisan support—passed a bill that's at odds with the bipartisan bill the House passed earlier this month.

The Senate bill would pump $8 billion into the Highway Trust Fund until mid-December, with the hope that the post-election lull will allow lawmakers to reach a long-term solution.

The House bill would spend $11 billion and keep the trust fund afloat until next May.

House Speaker John Boehner warns he will ignore the Senate plan and vote on his own bill Thursday.

"If the Senate sends a Highway bill over here with those provisions in it, we're going to strip it out and put the House-passed provisions back in and send it back to the Senate," Boehner said Tuesday.

It's unclear, though, if Boehner has the votes to get what he wants.

The House plan first passed earlier this month with the help of Democrats. Now, some on the left are undecided if they'll support that plan again.

"I haven't made a judgment as to whether I'm going to vote against it. I have made a judgment that we need to get a bill that has a maximum consensus. The Senate already passed a bill. Is it perfect? No. But we don't have the time the speaker envisions to play ping pong," said Rep. Steve Israel of Queens.

If a compromise isn't reached before lawmakers leave town on Thursday, the Department of Transportation says it will have to slice aid to the states, resulting in some road construction projects coming to a halt next month.

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