WASHINGTON, Nov. 4, 2015 - A long-term surface transportation bill is on the congressional fast-track. The House this week took up a Senate-passed bill with hopes of getting final legislation to President Obama by Thanksgiving.

Farm and food industry groups were pushing to include increases in truck weight limits, which the Senate bill doesnt include because of opposition from Democrats. But Tuesday night, the House rejected, 187-236, an amendment by Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Wis.,that would have allowed states to increase the truck weight limits on their interstate highways from 80,000 pounds to 91,000 pounds, provided the trucks have six axles.

A coalition of farm and food industry groups wrote lawmakers that the higher limits would safely modernize truck shipments on Interstate highways by reducing the number of trucks needed to move our commodities and products through better utilization of existing capacity.

The House was expected to vote Wednesday on a second amendment, sponsored by Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., to allow states to permit livestock to be hauled in trucks weighing up to 95,000 pounds. A provision allowing states to set higher weights for milk trucks was added to the bill in committee.

The Senate would have to approve any House changes to the bill.

The legislation also appears likely to revive the Export-Import Bank. The Senate bill includes an Ex-Im reauthorization provision that House leaders retained in the measure. The House last week approved a standalone Ex-Im authorization bill, 313-118, but the Senate wont take up that measure.

The highway bill authorizes programs for six years but only provides three years of funding. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said the rest of the money will have to be found later. The House and Senate have until Nov. 20 to agree on a final bill or they will have to pass another temporary extension of funding authority.


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