Republican Scott Brown's win in the Jan. 19 Massachusetts Senate race, which bumped Democrats' standing in that chamber from a filibuster-proof 60 votes down to 59,  has quickly caused Democrats to revisit their plan for health-care legislation.  House and Senate negotiators had been trying to reconcile the bills each chamber had passed.

Now things are up in the air. President Obama indicated in a Jan. 20 ABC News interview that he is open to compromises. He said, "I would advise that we try to move quickly to coalesce around those elements of the package that people agree on."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said, "No decisions have been made" on how to proceed on health care. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, asked whether the current version of health-care legislation was dead, replied, "I sure hope so."

In the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters Jan. 21 that the Senate-approved bill in its current form "does not have the votes" to be approved in the House. But she added that there is "a recognition that there is a foundation of a bill" in the Senate measure.

House Republican Leader John Boehner (Ohio) was more pointed. He said,  "Our goal is to stop this monstrosity," and said lawmakers should "start over" on health-care legislation.

Construction has a big stake in what happens to health care legislation, but it's not the only important bill on the industry's agenda.

With construction unemployment hitting 22.7% for December, industry organizations and labor unions have been pushing for a  jobs-producing bill with a big infrastructure-funding component to follow last year's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. They like the jobs package the House passed in December, which totaled  $154-billion, including $47 billion for highways and other public works.

In the Senate,  Democrats had been working for weeks on their jobs proposal but had not yet released it.  Pam Whitted, National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association vice president for government affairs, says she's not certain whether Brown's election changes the outlook for the jobs legislation.

Starting well before the Jan. 19 election, there have been differing views on how to pay for the legislation. Whitted says Democrats prefer drawing on funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)--the approach taken in the House-passed bill. But some Republicans oppose using TARP money, and instead want to draw on unspent ARRA funds.

Surface-transportation reauthorization is another critical measure. The lack of agreement on how to fund a multi-year bill is long-standing. it has led to three extensions since September, the latest of which expires Feb. 28. A new long-term bill was a long shot before Brown's election and his victory won't change that calculus.

On the other hand, lawmakers aren't likely to let the highway and transit programs lapse, which almost surely means another stopgap is coming.

Congress also is nearly certain to pass appropriations for fiscal year 2011, which starts in less than nine months. But worries about the overall federal deficit will press legislators to hold down spending. That could mean selective cuts from 2010 levels in non-Defense areas, or at least hold down the size of program increases. Those pressures were there long before Brown's win in Massachusetts.

Stephen Sandherr, the Associated General Contractors' CEO, says that road to getting increased infrastructure funding through Congress already was a steep one.  Brown's victory "makes the climb just a tad steeper," Sandherr says.

In trying to assess the outlook for these and other bills, it's important to remember that 2010 is an election year. That fact is uppermost in many lawmakers' minds--at least for those on the ballot in November.  David Bauer, American Road & Transportation Builders Association senior vice president for government affairs, says that both parties have a decision to make: "Are we just going to spend the next 10 months trying to produce political ads,or are [we] going to actually try to deliver some results?"

(ENR Correspondent Pam Hunter also contributed reporting.)