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House Passes Highway Funding Bill, Awaits Conference With Senate

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The U.S. House passed another short term extension to the funding for the nation's highway system this week, which is rankling Democrats in the region.

The new version of a bill to temporarily extend the nation's highway funding program also includes political sweeteners for the GOP, such as a provision to limit the federal government's ability to regulate toxic coal ash. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) says the two chambers need to stay focused on passing a long term highway bill. 

"We need it for predictable funding, so our local governments can commit to do the type of transportation programs that are necessary for our safety, that are necessary for our economic expansion, that are necessary for our communities," Cardin says.

Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) says he's hoping the new House-passed bill sets the stage for the two parties to reach consensus on a long term bill. 

"I mean there's always things that you can tweak and improve, but overall I think it's a good package and we can get something worked out that's longer term," Griffith says.

Both sides of the debate are now preparing to hammer out their differences on the highway extension in a conference between the two chambers, although it's still unclear when negotiations will begin."

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