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Congressional aide says deal reached on transportation funding, student loans

Updated: June 27, 2012 5:14PM

Congressional leaders have reached deals on both transportation funding and looming increases in student loan interest, and an announcement of the compromises is expected Wednesday night.

The transportation bill would lay out funding for the next 2 years and 4 months, longer than the expected 1 year and 3 months, said Nathaniel Zimmer, spokesman for U.S. Rep Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.)

Congress has passed nine short-term transportation funding measures since last year as Democrats and Republicans struggled to reach a long-term deal.

The compromise comes just three days before current funding expires.

Three million construction jobs were at stake, officials said.

One of the sticking points for Republicans had been the Keystone XL Oil pipeline, which would transport synthetic crude oil from Canada to multiple U.S. destinations, including Illinois refineries.

President Obama balked at approving the pipeline, and GOP lawmakers wanted the transportation bill to include a provision greenlighting the project.

The compromise falls short of doing so, but does include some provisions sought by Republicans to streamline the approval process for transportation projects, Zimmer said.

The transportation bill and the student loan bill are expected to be packaged together, with more details to be released Wednesday night.

The student loan compromise was needed to avoid a massive increase in student loan interest rates that could have kicked in July 1.

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