Updated: 1:33 p.m.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said today he remains hopeful a deal can be reached on highway legislation by Friday and avoid the need for another short-term extension.
“We’re making progress on the highway bill. I mean, really, I feel good about that,” Reid said, noting his discussions with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.).
“Whether we get it done remains to be seen. But the House in an overwhelming vote [Wednesday], totally bipartisan ... instructed the conferees to come back with a bill by tomorrow,” Reid added.
While he acknowledged that a number of difficult issues remain unresolved, he said, “I feel that we have a shot at getting the highway bill done.”
Reid’s upbeat assessment is the clearest indication that the marathon negotiations between Boxer and Mica — which have been closely monitored by both Reid and Boehner — could be close to bearing fruit.
Mica and Boxer released a vaguely-worded joint statement this afternoon indicating they are making progress, but would not meet the end of the week deadline set by their leaders
“The conferees have moved forward toward a bipartisan, bicameral agreement on a highway reauthorization bill. Both House and Senate conferees will continue to work with a goal of completing a package by next week,” they said.