June 28, 2012 in Nation/World

Congress strikes agreement to renew transportation bill

Richard Simon McClatchy-Tribune
Pipeline item dropped

As part of the agreement on a transportation bill, Republicans agreed to drop a House-approved provision requiring the government to advance the proposed Keystone pipeline, intended to move oil from western Canada to Texas’ Gulf Coast. Pipeline approval – which prompted a veto threat from President Barack Obama – has been a top goal this election year for the GOP, which has pitted its claims that it would create jobs against environmental worries that it could accelerate global warming and endanger Midwestern water supplies.

WASHINGTON – Congressional negotiators reached tentative agreement Wednesday on a long-awaited multibillion-dollar transportation bill aimed at speeding up traffic-easing projects and boosting the nation’s economic recovery.

The rare bipartisan agreement was coming together with the political drama that has come to characterize this Congress, up against a Friday deadline when the government’s authority to collect gas taxes and fund transportation projects is due to expire.

“We have a tentative agreement,” said House Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica, R-Fla.

The measure, touted by both parties as perhaps the biggest jobs bill of the year, must be approved by the House and Senate. It would keep highway and transit spending at current levels through the end of fiscal year 2014.

President Barack Obama is expected to sign the measure, which does not include a provision sought by House Republicans to advance the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the bill would include “significant reforms,” including a provision that would allow transportation agencies to “focus our highway dollars on fixing America’s highways, not planting more flowers around the country.”

A measure to prevent a doubling in student loan interest rates Saturday for 7 million college undergraduates is scheduled to be wrapped into the bill.

Negotiators cautioned that they expect to work into the night to put the finishing touches on the bill.

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email