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
(Reporting By Richard Cowan; Editing by Vicki Allen)