Highway deal: Keystone out; compromise clears path

The agreement will extend highway spending authority and the gas tax for roughly two years, sources said. But it comes at a price: Republicans had to drop their insistence that President Barack Obama approve the Keystone XL pipeline, and Democrats had to settle for allowing states to opt out of spending some funds on nonroad projects like bike and pedestrian paths. The GOP also rolled back its insistence on curtailing the EPA’s ability to regulate coal ash. …

The deal also will help Congress wrap up another thorny issue before leaving for the July Fourth recess: preventing student loan rates from doubling. Leadership will likely marry the two bills for passage late this week. …

It was a rare moment in Washington: Both sides compromised, and neither side is fully happy with the result. It’s been a long slog: Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) introduced the highway bill in February, touting it as a way to marry increased oil exploration to building roads. In the end, the House never passed the massive agreement he envisioned, rather a shell bill that was meant as a negotiating vehicle with the Senate.