In the House, meanwhile, Speaker John Boehner’s ambitious plan to pursue a comprehensive energy and transportation bill fundamentally reshaping how the government pays for highways was in shambles, the victim of GOP infighting.
After initially breaking up his bill into its constituent parts, the Ohio Republican was forced late Thursday to scrap plans for a vote this week on the highway and transit funding portion.
Although Boehner’s office sought to pin the blame for the bill’s collapse on Senate Democrats, parochial demands from within his own conference, as well as strong conservative opposition ultimately doomed the bill.
Boehner now appears headed back to the drawing board on transportation, and he will likely make significant changes to his original five-year plan. According to GOP aides, in addition to shrinking its length — likely to two years — Boehner will also abandon his plan to do away with funding transit programs from the broader transportation budget, a proposal that had engendered bipartisan opposition in the House.
Boehner may also look to shave some of the spending off the top of the new bill in an effort to appease some of his conservative Members.
Boehner and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) will likely also have to spend significant time educating their Members on the changes and lining up votes, a process which could take several weeks.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.