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Senate passes $109 billion transportation bill

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 6:37 PM EDT, Wed March 14, 2012
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, urged the House to pass the transportation bill quickly.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, urged the House to pass the transportation bill quickly.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The bill passes easily with bipartisan support on a 74-22 Senate vote
  • Republican-led House is considering its own version
  • House version includes energy policy provisions opposed by Democrats
  • Administration encourages the House to quickly pass the Senate plan

Washington (CNN) -- A $109 billion transportation bill won approval Wednesday from the Senate but still faces likely political wrangling in the House.

The 74-22 Senate vote showed broad bipartisan support for the two-year measure that extends the federal highway trust fund set to expire at the end of March.

Without an extension, many federally funded projects to build and repair roads and bridges would halt.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, hailed the measure as a jobs bill and urged the Republican-led House to quickly pass it.

The White House also called for rapid House approval on a bill to keep work going on infrastructure projects and provide state and local authorities with "the certainty they need to plan ahead."

House Republicans are pushing a five-year transportation bill that would include provisions opposed by Democrats, such as expanded oil drilling on federal lands.

"We are all working together toward coalescing around a longer-term approach with needed reforms," said Michael Steel, the spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. "If we can't get there, we may have to take up something like the Senate bill -- but we'd prefer to take the responsible approach on this and get a longer-term bill through the House."

According to two House GOP leadership aides, the House will likely bring up a short-term extension of a few months to provide more time to work out the desired longer-term version.

CNN's Tom Cohen and Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report.

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