Senate Breaks Highway Bill Gridlock

Posted September 10, 2008 at 5:12pm

The Senate on Wednesday cleared away obstacles to a highway repair bill and passed the measure on voice vote, after Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) agreed to allow GOP critics to have their say on the floor.

The measure transfers general funds into the Highway Trust Fund, which has suffered from declining revenues amid soaring gasoline prices.

The Senate appeared gridlocked over the bill early Wednesday — Reid was hoping to put it on a fast track to passage, while several Republicans resisted his efforts and complained that it was wasteful spending.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Budget ranking member Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) asked for time to debate the bill, but Reid was reluctant at first , saying the Senate needed to move through a host of legislation in the short work period; however, he relented, clearing the way for the bill to move to the floor.

The Senate debated the measure for an hour, but Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), among others, were still dissatisfied that they could not amend the bill to decrease its costs.

“We’re not allowed to do anything to this bill except debate it,” Coburn said.