House committee ignores highway bill veto threat
The Republican-led House Rules Committee cleared for a final vote in the lower chamber on Tuesday a bill that would tie an extension of federal highway funding to the controversial Keystone pipeline.
The approval came despite a veto threat from President Obama issued by the White House Tuesday afternoon.
A floor vote on the highway bill extension could come as early Wednesday, the committee said after the vote.
During negotiations over the current extension of transportation funding, which is scheduled to last until June 30, the White House said it wants to avoid an interruption of transportation funding.
But the White House said Tuesday President Obama’s senior advisors would recommend he veto the bill because linking transportation funding to the Keystone pipeline, which is a cross-country oil pipeline that was rejected earlier this year by President Obama, “circumvents a longstanding and proven process for determining whether cross-border pipelines are in the national interest by mandating the permitting of the Keystone XL pipeline before a new route has been submitted and assessed.”
Democrats had pressed the House Rules Committee to allow an amendment that would replace the short-term transportation extension with a two-year, $109 billion transportation bill that was approved last month by the Senate.
But the Rules Committee voted 7-3 Tuesday to allow only a trio of Republican amendments to the bill under a “structured” floor debate.
GOP aides have said the measure is intended to be the legislative language House Republicans take into a potential conference with the Senate about the highway bill. The Senate sought to pressure the House into accepting its version of the bill, but the House decided instead to pass the short-term extension of funding through June 30.
The measure became law when it was accepted by the Senate and signed by President Obama to avoid a transportation funding interruption.