Durbin to House: Pass Senate's transportation bill

March 15, 2012

Associated Press and Lauren Chooljian

The United States Senate has passed a bipartisan transportation bill just a few weeks before current programs are set to expire. GOP House lawmakers have made multiple attempts at a rival bill, but their most recent legislation stalled last week.

Transportation bills don't usually cause partisan politics, and according to Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, they are usually easy to pass. On a conference call on an unrelated topic Wednesday, Durbin said he wants his colleagues in the House to stop making this a partisan issue.

"The best thing the House can do [is] take up the bill the senate just passed. A bipartisan vote, an overwhelming vote, in favor of this bill tells you that we have a good bipartisan effort. If they bring that to the floor of the pass, I think it has a good chance to pass," Durbin said.

The $109 billion dollar Senate bill would give states more flexibility in how they spend federal transportation dollars. It passed the Senate Wednesday with a 74-22 vote, just a few weeks before a looming funding deadline. The government's power to collect about $110 million a day in federal gasoline and diesel taxes, the main source of revenue for highway and transit programs, is set to expire March 31.

House Speaker John Boehner says he plans to bring the Senate bill up for a vote if the House can't pass a Republican plan in time.