Washington (CNN) – Senators trying to mount a head-on battle with the House over highway funding may have doomed their own bill with a $2 billion mistake.
“We are working to address this technical error,” wrote Tara DiJulio, spokeswoman for Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, who cosponsored the legislation along with two Democrats.
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The measure electrified the Senate on Tuesday, getting unexpected support from 25 Republicans. Many praised it for dropping a controversial funding measure called “pension smoothing.”
But, it turns out, the proposal was not fully paid for. The bill would cost some $7 billion, keeping the Highway Trust Fund operating through mid-December.
Lawmakers realized on Wednesday that it only pays for some $5 billion of that cost, leaving a $2 billion shortfall.
So now, senators are hoping for a technical fix, essentially to just change a few words.
The problem is, the Senate bill is already in the hands of the House. To fix it, the House would need to pass a concurrent resolution.
Massive advantage: House
Fixes like that are common in both chambers, including a roughly $11 billion correction to the House highway bill that the Senate allowed.
But, with the Highway Trust Fund due to start running out of money on Friday and Congress set to leave for August recess this week, the House does not seem interested in returning the favor.
The mistake is a massive advantage for the Republican-led House and perhaps game-ender for the Senate bill and its would-be Cinderella story.
Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, told CNN that at this point the House is not considering making any corrections to the bill passed by the Democratic-led Senate.
“The only responsible course is for the Senate to pass the original House-passed highway bill, which we will soon send back to them,” Steel wrote in a statement.