Senate fails to advance six-year highway bill, with deadline days away

The Senate on Tuesday failed to advance a highway and transit bill with a fast-approaching deadline, after Democratic and Republican negotiators said earlier in the day that they had reached an agreement.

An attempt to bring the measure up for debate failed to get the minimum 60 votes, amid complaints from members of both parties that they didn’t have time to read the roughly 1,000-page-long text.

The bill failed 51-to-46.

Congress is facing a July 31 deadline to act.

Earlier in the day, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced on the Senate floor that a deal had been reached on the six-year bill, subject to approval by rank-and-file lawmakers.

However, negotiators were able to find only enough funds to pay for transportation programs for the first three years, he said.

The measure is being negotiated primarily by McConnell and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said at the time that he and fellow Democratic leaders must first see a copy of the legislation and then discuss it with their members.

A full bill would follow dozens of recent short-term extensions.

The GOP-led House has reportedly already passed such a bill, but it would fund programs only through mid-December.

The Associated Press and Fox News’ Kara Rowland contributed to this report.