THUNE FLOATS HIGHWAY BILL AS RECONCILIATION CANDIDATE

Republican Conference Chairman John Thune is floating the idea of using the budget reconciliation process to solve the highway bill funding impasse.

“Using the budget reconciliation process … from a timing standpoint enables us, I think, to address what are a couple of really big priorities, and that is reforming our business tax code, lowering the rates, making our country more competitive with those around the world, and dealing with what we know is going to be a crisis come May 31, and that’s funding highways,” old reporters Tuesday.

Thune said “there’ll be a lot of interest” among Republicans in using reconciliation, which produces a legislative vehicle that can reach President Barack Obama’s desk without facing a filibuster, to attack Obamacare.

The Budget Act places limits on the ability of lawmakers to use the fast-track budget process, but even that has proven to be fungible from time to time, with parliamentary rulings coming in conflict over the years. Under the most recently accepted construct, a trio of reconciliation bills may be created under a budget resolution: one each on revenues, debt and outlays. A reconciliation bill undercutting Obamacare for example would face a certain veto, but a tax code overhaul that provided for significant infrastructure spending might be an entirely different matter, especially if crafted with Democrats on Capitol Hill and in the White House. Both the highway bill and the Affordable Care Act are revenue bills.

Thune, the chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, one of several authorizing committees with a slice of the transportation bill, said the current law would still need an extension, even under his expedited process proposal.

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