WASHINGTON, March 8 House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, struggling to gain Republican support for a $260 billion transportation bill, said on Thursday he intended to pursue a less ambitious version under consideration by the Democratic-controlled Senate instead.
A day after imploring House Republicans to end their deep divisions over the five-year measure to rebuild roads, bridges and railways, Boehner moved a step closer to giving up on the troubled House bill altogether.
"The current plan is to see what the Senate can produce and to bring their bill up," Boehner told reporters. "In the meantime we're going to continue to have conversations with members about a longer-term approach, which most of our members want. But at this point in time, the plan is to bring up the Senate bill or something like it," Boehner said.
The Senate will begin to vote on amendments to its $109 billion two-year transport bill on Thursday, including provisions authorizing the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to Texas and increased offshore oil drilling opportunities.
The House version has faced difficulties from the start, alienating fiscally conservative Republicans over its price tag while both Democrats and some Republicans have opposed a provision that would end dedicated funding for mass transit projects. (Reporting By Richard Cowan; Editing by Vicki Allen)