The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

August 1, 2013

Transportation funding bill faces GOP opposition

WASHINGTON (AP) — A measure awarding generous funding to road and bridge projects, community development grants and housing help for the poor is running into stiff Republican opposition in the Senate.

The bill appeared likely to fall prey Thursday to a filibuster by Republicans unhappy that the legislation breaks through budget limits required by automatic spending cuts known as budget sequestration.

"Voting for appropriations legislation that blatantly violates budget reforms already agreed to by both parties moves our country in exactly, exactly the wrong direction," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said.

Far more austere companion legislation was pulled off the House floor Wednesday because, top lawmakers said, GOP leaders lacked the votes to pass it. The House Appropriations Committee chairman, Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Ky., said it was time to go back to the drawing board and come up with a compromise with congressional Democrats and the White House.

Taken together, the likely failure of both measures illustrates the shortcomings of the budget strategies by Republicans controlling the House and Democrats in charge of the Senate. At issue are the 12 spending bills passed each year by Congress for the day-to-day working of the government.

House GOP leaders pulled the measure from the floor after detecting opposition from both conservatives and more moderate members. Democrats were united against the bill and its steep cuts to Amtrak, transportation and housing programs, and community development grants.

"There are some folks that have a hard time voting for any appropriation bill and then there are some folks (for whom) this was probably a difficult vote ..., with Amtrak and block grants and stuff," said Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa, author of the transportation and housing measure. Aides to top Republicans like Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California maintained that the measure was scuttled because there wasn't enough time in the House's crowded schedule.

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