Congress Reaches Tentative Agreement on Highway Bill


6/27/2012 4:15:00 PM
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Congressional leaders said Wednesday they have reached tentative agreement on a federal highway bill.

The measure drops a requirement that the government approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline, the Associated Press said, citing congressional sources who spoke on condition of anonymity because a deal had not been finalized.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who chairs the Senate Environment Works and Public Works Committee, said in a statement that “the bill is funded at current levels and will protect and create three million jobs.�

If “a majority of House and Senate conferees approve the conference report, both bodies are then expected to take up the measure before the end of the week, prior to the expiration of the current extension of transportation funding on June 30,� the House Transportation Committee said in a statement.

Neither Boxer nor John Mica (R-Fla.), the House committee chairman, revealed details of the long-awaited bill but Mica said the measure contains what he called “unprecedented reforms� for “cutting red tape, truly making projects ‘shovel ready,’ shrinking the size of the federal bureaucracy, attracting more private sector participation, and giving states more flexibility to address their critical priorities.�

The bill authorizes transportation funding and programs through September 2014, a Mica spokesman said.

House Republicans had pushed for inclusion of the pipeline provision, but the White House threatened to veto the bill if it was included, AP reported.

The bill must be approved by Saturday or lawmakers will have to pass another temporary funding extension for transportation, lest highway projects be shut down.

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