Congress Signals Agreement on Highway Bill

June 27, 2012

CORRECTED -- Congress appears close to agreement on reauthorization of the federal highway program.

Reports from various sources last evening indicated congressional leaders had a tentative agreement on a two-year bill. It appears that the bill will not include a controversial provision requiring approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The details of the highway compromise have not been made public, but reports indicate a deal has been reached for a two-year program.(Photo courtesy of MNDOT)

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, and Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, put out statements indicating that a deal has been struck.

Boxer said the bill will fund the highway program at current levels, although she did not give the amount. She added that it speeds up project delivery while preserving environmental protections.

"I am so glad that House Republicans met Democrats half way, as Senate Republicans did months ago," she said, referring to the compromise between that led to Senate passage of a two-year, $109 billion bill last March.

Rep. Mica said the bill will fund highways until September 30, 2014.

"This legislation is specifically designed to reform and consolidate our transportation programs, streamline the bureaucratic project process, and give states more flexibility to save taxpayers' hard-earned money," he said.

We previously reported that according to CBS News, the Senate had dropped a provision that would have required commercial trucks to be equipped with EOBRs to keep track of how many hours drivers spend behind the wheel. However, Lane Kidd, president of the Arkansas Trucking Association, says that report was incorrect and EOBRs are required on all commercial trucks in the highway bill. Again, the final details of the bill have not yet been released and current reporting is based on unofficial reports. We will bring you more information on this question as it becomes available.

The Senate also reportedly agreed to in effect cut funding for bike paths, pedestrian safety projects and other "transportation enhancements" by making them compete with other transportation programs for the same pool of funds.

Check back for more details as they become available.

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