Newspaper article

Minnesota Lawmakers Lobby Colleagues Ahead of St. Croix Bridge Vote

Newspaper article

Minnesota Lawmakers Lobby Colleagues Ahead of St. Croix Bridge Vote

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- One day before the U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to debate on a bill authorizing the construction of a new $700 million bridge over the St. Croix River, lawmakers on both sides of the issue are trying to finesse their colleagues into voting with them.

GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann said she was "working the phones, we are pounding the pavement, I'm knocking on doors" trying to consolidate support for the bridge project, which will be considered under a procedural rule requiring two-thirds of the House to support the bill for its passage. A vote is planned for Thursday.

Bachmann has the backing of House leadership, which slipped the bill onto the House's schedule on Monday night. Gov. Mark Dayton said last week that Congress must approve the bill before March 15 in order for the project to go forward. The Senate unanimously approved the project in January.

"It really is like Moses parting the waters to get this done," Bachmann said. "We've never seen this bridge project as far along as it is now. ... We didn't want to see the window close."

Bachmann said she had been reaching out to Republican colleagues, while Democratic supporters had been wrangling to get votes from that side of the aisle. Though the bill has broad bipartisan support among members of the Minnesota and Wisconsin congressional delegations, a sizable number of Democrats opposed the legislation when the House Natural Resources Committee considered it in November. She'll need 48 Democrats to back the bill in order for it to pass, assuming full Republican support.

Dayton lobbies leaders

Dayton lobbied both House Speaker John Boehner and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday, asking them to back the plan.

"The urgent need for this connection between Wisconsin and Minnesota has united Members of Congress and the Governors from both states and both political parties," he wrote in a letter to the lawmakers. "We ask for your support of this legislation and your assistance in securing its passage by the U.S. House of Representatives."

On the other side of the St. Croix, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker reaffirmed his support for the project last week after Dayton imposed the March 15 deadline. …

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