Senators close to finish transport bill negotiations with House Republicans image

With Congress’s Fourth of July recess looming next week, Senators involved in marathon talks on a two-year deal for funding U.S. road, bridge and rail projects said on Monday they were close to a compromise with House Republicans.

Staff talks on the bill extended around the clock over the weekend, California Democrat Senator Barbara Boxer said.

“We are on the 1/2 yard line,” Boxer said in urging the lobbyists to contact congressional leaders to push for a deal. “We cannot afford to have any slippage from the progress we’ve been making.”

She declined to answer questions about specific agreements, saying negotiations weren’t complete.

Party leaders insist that letting the surface transportation funding bill expire is not an option, and President Barack Obama has called repeatedly for passing the measure to ensure continued funding for the hard-hit construction industry amid sluggish economic recovery.

Federal funding for transportation projects expires on Saturday. As many as 3 million jobs hinge on the legislation, and failure to pass it would have a direct impact on the economy ahead of the Nov. 6 general election.

Last-ditch weekend talks had yielded glimmers of compromise on some sticking points in the proposed two-year, $109 billion package to pay for road, bridge and rail construction.