WASHINGTON — Congressional negotiators reached an agreement Wednesday on a highway bill that will essentially mean status quo funding for the next 27 months, but will give states more flexibility in how they spend the money and reduce the time needed for environmental reviews on construction projects, Sen. Jim Inhofe said.
Inhofe, one of the lead negotiators for the Senate, said Oklahoma's funding would remain about $600 million a year, and the state would get back more money than state motorists pay in federal gas taxes.
Inhofe, R-Tulsa, said Republicans dropped demands for requiring the construction of the northern segment of the Keystone XL pipeline, while Democrats agreed to streamlining the environmental review process.
A strong supporter of the Keystone pipeline, Inhofe said the deal was a good one since he expects the pipeline ultimately will be approved.
The House and Senate may vote on the bill in the next two days, just beating the deadline for the expiration of highway programs and the authority to collect the federal gas tax. Rep. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, one of the House negotiators on the bill, was not available for comment Wednesday.
“The agreement struck on the highway conference report is great news for jobs and economic growth in Oklahoma and across the nation,” Inhofe said.