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Congress reaches transportation deal

June 27, 2012 at 9:53 PM
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WASHINGTON, June 27 (UPI) -- Congressional Republicans and Democrats said Wednesday they have reached a deal for a transportation spending bill for the first time in seven years.

The conference committee bill, hammered out ahead of a June 30 deadline, will keep spending at the current level of about $54 billion a year. A ratification vote is expected in both chambers this week.

The Washington Post reported the agreement was worked out after Republicans dropped their demands to add legislation allowing the Keystone oil pipeline and to weaken proposed restrictions on coal ash produced by power plants.

Democrats conceded $1.4 billion for conservation and agreed to allow states more freedom to spend money that had been specifically designated for landscaping, bike improvements and pedestrian walkways, the newspaper said.

"I am so glad that House Republicans met Democrats halfway, as Senate Republicans did months ago," said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., the bill's chief sponsor. "The bill is funded at current levels, and it will protect and create 3 million jobs."

House Transportation Committee Chairman John L. Mica, R-Fla., called it a jobs bill.

"This agreement will help strengthen our nation's construction industry and provide stability to highway, bridge and infrastructure projects across the country," Mica said.

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