WASHINGTON - House and Senate conferees appear to be headed for a showdown when they meet to hammer out the $2 billion difference in their separate versions of legislation designating the highways to receive priority spending in the next six years.

On Friday the Senate approved, by voice vote, a "blueprint" for the National Highway System that would set priorities but would not authorize any actual spending for almost 160,000 miles of road connecting the country's main thoroughfares.

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