Minnesota Republican Chip Cravaack will be joining a panel of lawmakers tapped to work out an agreement on the sweeping federal transportation spending bill that has eluded Congress since September, 2009.
 
Cravaack was named yesterday to a House-Senate conference that will begin meeting next month. The assignment provides the first-term lawmaker an added measure of visibility this year as he is targeted by Democrats in his first re-election bid.
 
The Senate passed a two-year, $109 billion transportation bill earlier this year. A $260 billion, five-year version that came out of the House Transportation Committee came under attack from right and left, so House Republicans cleared a 90-day extension of current transportation programs in order to begin negotiations with the Senate.
 
The House bill also would speed approval of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline, likely to continue to be a sticking point with the Democratic-led Senate.