Fate of federal employee provisions in highway bill up in the air

Pat Wellenbach/AP

House Republican leaders are planning to vote on Thursday on a 90-day extension of federal highway authority under a rule that would require a simple majority to pass. They expect to pass it without help from Democrats. They will then adjourn for a two-week recess, daring the Democrat-controlled Senate to reject the extension or allow highway authority to expire on Saturday.

House leaders are holding open the possibility that Democrats will yield on their refusal to support any highway extension. Republicans claim that Democrats earlier had agreed to a 60-day stopgap, and that 60-day bill is still available for an expedited vote on Wednesday that would require two-thirds majority to pass.

Democrats remain stalwart that they won’t support a temporary extension because they say House leaders have a perfectly viable option to end the highway debate now—pass a bipartisan Senate bill that would fund highway programs for two years with $109 billion. Both Republicans and Democrats in the House accuse the other side of playing political games.

The Senate version of the longer term highway bill is more friendly to feds than the House alternative, which includes provisions that would increase the amount civil servants contribute to their pensions.

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