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Congress leaders involved in highway talks

June 19, 2012 at 5:07 PM
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WASHINGTON, June 19 (UPI) -- House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said he and the majority leader in the U.S. Senate were getting involved in negotiations over a new highway spending bill.

Boehner said he and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., were taking part in a sit-down Tuesday with Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., the co-leaders of the 47-member conference committee wrestling with the bill.

"I'm going to stress to Sen. Reid and Sen. Boxer that we want a bill, but we also are going to insist on reforms to the process by which we spend the highway tax dollars," Boehner told reporters prior to the meeting.

The meeting came as the clocked ticked down toward the June 30 deadline for a bill that would extend federal funding for highway construction and maintenance for another 18 months, The Hill said.

Boehner contended the Democrats were seeking to divert spending toward fringe projects rather than "fixing highways and rebuilding highways instead of planting flowers and diverting money for purposes that (the fund) was never intended to do."

Boxer countered the GOP had its own clashing priorities, including a mandate to green-light the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline.

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