by Keith Laing, The Hill Newspaper
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), the sponsor of the Senate’s $109 billion transportation bill said Wednesday that she did not see a path forward for the measure in the upper chamber.
The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century bill (S. 1813), which is commonly referred to as MAP 21, had appeared to be moving quickly through the Senate after a vote to end debate on the measure was approved by a wide margin last week.
But in a speech on the floor that Wednesday, Boxer said that the bill has been held up by “ridiculously unrelated amendments.”
“Right now, there is no path forward,” Boxer said even as she vowed to continue pushing for a clean vote on the transportation proposal.
“I don’t see it,” Boxer said. “It’s one of those things where people just say ‘I don’t care. We’re not going to (approve) this bill.'”
The Senate transportation bill, which is shorter than the controversial House version of the measure, has been hailed for its bipartisanship since was approved unanimously by several committees. The Senate bill does not include provisions to expand oil drilling, but it has been bogged down amendments such as a measure from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) dealing with foreign aid to Egypt and an effort to contraception in their healthcare plans.
Boxer said Wednesday that she would not allow the transportation bill to be permanently stopped during the amendment process.
“Everyone in America is going know that this is happening because I’m going to tell everyone in America it’s happening,” Boxer said.
“It’s hard to find the words, except to say… ‘What are you thinking?’” she said of amendments that had been filed for the transportation bill.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) also criticized the GOP Wednesday for adding amendments to the transportation bill.
“We have made some progress in working to an end to the issues preventing us from moving forward on this bill,” said Reid from the floor. “There is enough importance in this bill to do just that.”
The back and forth over the progress of the Senate bill came as House Speaker John Boehner postponed a vote on his chamber’s six-year, $260 billion transportation amid speculation he did not have enough votes to win approval for the measure.
The Senate transportation bill received 85 votes on the motion to invoke cloture and proceed toward final passage last week.