Durbin battling lawmakers over transportation bill

April 30, 2012

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When Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin talks about the stalemate in Washington, D.C. over transportation funding, he is visibly frustrated.

"This used to be the easiest bill on Capitol Hill!" he said to reporters at an unrelated event Friday.

Durbin has been appointed to a conference committee by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to try to reconcile differences between House and Senate proposals. Durbin says that experience will be "interesting."  

The last full transportation bill passed in 2005, and disagreements among lawmakers since then have forced temporary short-term extensions of the previous funding level to prevent a widespread shutdown of construction projects. Durbin said lawmakers can't keep extending the current funding.

"How many long term projects can you contract for at 90 days at a time? And the answer is almost none. And can you save money on short term 90 day contracts? No, it costs more!" he said.

Lawmakers have until June until current funding expires - a situation they found themselves in a month ago.