Of course, that assumes House GOP negotiators are able to extract enough political concessions from the Senate to make a push for final passage worthwhile. Given the history of the legislation this year, that could be a tall order.
Democrats were clearly pleased with Boehner’s woes.
Minority Whip Steny Hoyer on Tuesday repeatedly hammered Republicans over their inability to marshal their troops to pass a highway bill. “Frankly, the Republicans rejected a chance to pass ... a bill that three-quarters of the Senate is for,” the Maryland Democrat said, noting that despite their opposition to the Senate bill, “they can’t even get to a significant number [of Republicans] — where a few of us voting for it would make the difference.”
Boehner has been forced into “trying to cobble together some modicum of a bill that they can get through the House of Representatives. ... I just think it’s unfortunate that the Republican Party can’t come to reasonable compromises,” Hoyer said.
The administration also got into the act, arguing in its SAP that “this legislation would miss a critical opportunity to provide more certainty to States and localities as they undertake the long-term planning and execution of projects and programs that are essential to creating and keeping American workers in good paying jobs.”
Still, it was unclear whether Hoyer would end up whipping against the bill or allow it to pass uncontested to begin conference talks. “We need to get a bill done. We need to give stability” to states and contractors, Hoyer said. “We’re hopeful we can get to a conference ... but I’m not saying I’m for their plan,” he added.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.