House passes surface transportation bill but the path forward is unclear

After votes on a number of amendments, and on one amendment to the water sections of this bill, the vote on final passage was taken.It means that the Republicans added more than 100 amendments to the bill. They wanted to remove some aggressive climate policies and reverse unfair carveouts for urban areas. The bill should be more focused on roads and less on rail and transit. They were frustrated at not being able to negotiate inclusion of their priorities in a bill with a history of bipartisan cooperation. Their frustration was compounded by their failure to achieve this.Democrats have emerged with a bill that is a significant part of their climate change response. This existential threat was brought to sharp focus this week by a deadly heat wave in Western states.Uncertain are the next steps in the bill's evolution. The normal course of action, a conference with the Senate to discuss a parallel bill, has been complicated. Now, the focus could shift to merging the bill and a bipartisan compromise bill that was negotiated over months between Senate moderates, the White House, and other senators.The budget reconciliation process will likely move on to the second bill. This bill is expected to be approved by only Democratic votes. However, it is expected that the bills will remain separate but connected to other efforts. Although many Democrats insist that reconciliation bills be moved in tandem with bipartisan bills, Biden's insistence that they should is a source of frustration for Republicans and almost cost the entire thing.Next: The House immediately after passing the bill broke for the July Fourth recess. Already one week into the two-week Senate break, Due to the immense effort put into climate and infrastructure legislation, lawmakers are less comfortable with any extension of the current surface transportation law. The rest of the infrastructure plan may have to wait. However, roads, bridges and transit programs, as well as taxes and general fund transfers, must be approved within the next three months.