Tentative deal reached on Highway Transportation Bill
Republicans and Democrats in Congress have reached a tentative agreement on a two-year deal to finance the nation’s highways. The $8.4 billion dollar bill comes just days before the previous Transportation Bill expires on Saturday, June 30, 2012. The legislation will reportedly help to create around 3 million jobs.
In the agreement Wednesday, Republicans from the House gave up several key points including a provision that aimed to speed up authorization on the Keystone Pipeline. Democrats, meanwhile, agreed to ease certain environmental rules, including shrinking the time frame regulators have to survey project sites.
Congress is also looking to attach a measure to the bill before the deadline on Saturday that will extend student loans at their current interest rate.
The bill carries several important provisions for the agriculture and wheat community. Amongst these is an exemption from the regulation of farm trucks that would otherwise place limits on hours of service and requirements for commercial licenses.
The exemption will apply to farm vehicles that weigh less than 26,000 pounds and are carrying commodities, livestock or equipment and are operated by a farmer, rancher or their employee. Trucks that weigh more than 26,000 pounds are exempt within 150 miles of the farm or ranch. This exemption is particularly important to farmers that carry goods and supplies across state lines.
Congress is expected to take up and pass the bill before the July 4 recess.