Reid Moves to Add 37 Amendments to Senate Bill; Cloture Vote Tuesday

AASHTO Journal, 2 March 2012

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, introduced Thursday afternoon a 1,522-page substitute for S 1813, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, which incorporates the text of 37 amendments accepted by the bill’s floor managers. Reid then used a procedural maneuver to block consideration of any further modifications until the Senate holds a cloture vote on the new language at noon Tuesday.Senate Amendment 1761 rewrites the entire bill, using as a baseline provisions adopted by the Environment and Public Works; Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs; and Finance committees. Modified language of bills reported from the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee is also included in the substitute amendment.

Only one vote occurred this week in the Senate on MAP-21 — a controversial non-germane amendment dealing with contraception coverage in certain health-insurance policies was tabled by a vote of 51-48 Thursday morning.

“The Republican leader and others on the Republican side had made clear they wouldn’t allow the Senate to move forward on this piece of legislation until they got a vote on contraception,” Reid said Thursday afternoon on the floor while introducing Senate Amendment 1761. “Now we can move on to attempting to process other amendments.”

Senators voted 85-11 on Feb. 9 to proceed to a full debate of MAP-21. (see Feb. 9 AASHTO Journal story) Reid said progress since then has been too slow, with not a single amendment approved on the floor. The majority leader’s first effort to bring debate to a close failed Feb. 17 when 54 senators voted to curtail debate and 42 voted against — six votes short of the 60 required. (see Feb. 17 AASHTO Journal story)

“I would be very satisfied if the Senate adopted this amendment [1761], which would serve as original text for the purposes of further amendment,” Reid said Thursday. “We need a path forward on this bill, and we don’t have one now. We continue work on an agreement to have votes on a number of non-germane amendments on which the Republican caucus says it wants.”

The majority leader announced this morning that a roll-call vote on a petition to close debate on the substitute will occur at noon Tuesday.

“It’s vital we complete work on this surface transportation bill and I am determined the Senate will do so and do so as quickly as possible,” Reid said.

Sens. David Vitter, R-Louisiana, and John Hoeven, R-North Dakota, spoke about MAP-21 during the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Washington Briefing this week. (see related story) The House of Representatives is also considering a surface transportation reauthorization bill. (see related story)


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