In the frenetic legislative run-up to the August recess, House lawmakers sent their version of a highway bill back to the Senate after voting to disagree with that chamber's amendment to the legislation.
The House voted 272-150 to send the original $10.8 billion House bill back to the Senate, with 227 Republicans and 45 Democrats once again supporting the measure. Democrats had been considering voting down the highway bill in a gambit meant to force Republicans to accept the Senate changes, but that plan never quite materialized.
Still, significantly more Democrats voted against the House bill this time. On July 15, the House passed the bill 367-55, with 45 Republicans and 10 Democrats voting against it. This time, both Republicans and Democrats cracked down on their members to vote with their party.
On Tuesday, the Senate voted 79-18 to change some of the offsets in the bill and the length of the measure from May to December. The idea with changing the term of the bill is to force Congress to find a more permanent solution in the lame-duck session.
House Democrats came to the House floor Thursday to express their dissatisfaction with the patch.
Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., said that by insisting on the House bill, Congress would be denying certainty to the highway and construction industry.
"They are going to slide into the next Congress," Blumenauer said. "We are going to duck all the tough issues. We haven't heard anything that deals with how we are going to move forward."
Fellow Oregon Democrat Peter A. DeFazio noted that the United States was now 26th in infrastructure in the world, and he said as former bicycle mechanic, he knew how to patch a tube. "But if you get to the point where you can't see the tube anymore for the patches, then it's time for a new tube."
The bill now goes back to the Senate.