COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – The Latest on the Senate’s ongoing debate over road funding (all times local):
Democrats have agreed to allow a Republican proposal to raise $400 million yearly for South Carolina roads without raising the state’s gas tax to be debated.
The agreement came about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday after a day of short tempers.
The proposal would also allow the governor to appoint every member of the state Department of Transportation Board.
Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler says he thinks all Senate Republicans can support the bill. He wants to have a vote on it by next week.
As part of the deal, Democrats will be allowed to put up some amendments and have a longer debate on the bill.
The Senate will begin work on the bill Thursday.
Republican and Democratic South Carolina senators are meeting behind closed doors by party to reach a deal so they can debate a roads bill.
After Republicans voted to force votes on the bill Wednesday, Democrats spent the next two hours using parliamentary tactics to stall debate.
Republicans called for a recess, and about 20 senators from both parties gathered on the floor for an unusual informal discussion. Republicans offered to set a time to vote, and Democrats said they wanted more time for debate.
Then frustrated senators from both parties decided to meet in their own groups behind closed doors.
Democrats say Republicans were unfair by spending two weeks filibustering the bill and then forcing votes before Democrats had time to debate or read the GOP proposal.
Republicans have agreed to force the Senate to begin voting on a roads bill.
The South Carolina Senate voted 24-16 along party lines to invoke cloture – which limits debate on amendments to 20 minutes each.
A vote on the entire bill is still likely a long way off. Senate President Pro Tem Hugh Leatherman said earlier this week that there are about 300 amendments to the bill to be considered. Democratic Sen. Brad Hutto says his party plans to take the time on each amendment.
Republicans appear to be coalescing around a plan to take $400 million out of the general budget for roads and reform the board that runs the Department of Transportation without raising the gas tax.
The Senate’s first attempt in two weeks to stop a filibuster over road funding has failed by a wide margin.
Only six senators voted Wednesday to force the Senate to begin voting on amendments to the road funding bill. Thirty-five senators – both Democrats and Republicans – voted against cloture and to allow a filibuster by conservative senators against a gas tax increase to continue.
Business leaders have been pressuring the Senate to act on road funding.
But Senate leaders say voting on cloture would be a disaster because each amendment could only get 10 minutes of debate.
Gov. Nikki Haley says the leader of the South Carolina Senate is holding a bill to get more money to state roads hostage.
Haley said Wednesday that fellow Republican Senate President Pro Tem Hugh Leatherman is stalling because he wants lawmakers to keep control of the board that runs the Department of Transportation because the system allows the Legislature to trade favors for road money.
Leatherman was on the Senate floor when Haley spoke and was not immediately available to respond to the governor.
But Sen. Larry Martin says the criticism is unfair. The Pickens Republican says blame can be put on several groups, including conservative senators against a gas tax increase and Democrats not happy with the tax cut component of a proposed roads bill.