House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, center, joined by other House GOP leaders, gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 27, 2012, following a political strategy session. From left are, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Va., Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., Boehner, Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-NC, and Rep. Bill Flores, R-Texas. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
WASHINGTON (AP) — Facing weekend deadlines for action, congressional leaders have agreed to deals overhauling the nation’s transportation programs without a Republican provision forcing approval of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline, and avoiding a doubling of interest rates for new student loans, congressional officials said Wednesday.
The agreements underscored the pressures both parties face to avoid angering voters and facing embarrassing headlines in the run-up to this November’s presidential and congressional elections. Letting road-building programs grind to a halt during an economic downturn would be a blow to the image of lawmakers, while Democrats and Republicans alike seemed eager to avoid enraging millions of students and their parents by boosting the costs of college loans.
In contrast, enactment of the transportation measure would create or save 3 million jobs, said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., chief sponsor of the Senate version of the bill. And the student loan measure would spare an estimated 7.4 million students who get subsidized Stafford loans beginning July 1 — this Sunday — from facing $1,000 in higher interest costs over the lives of their loans, which typically take over a decade to repay.
Congressional leaders were planning to combine the highway and student loan measures into a single bill to reduce Login to read more