Highway Bill Enters Legislative Homestretch

WASHINGTON (AP) - Congress has reached the homestretch on a major overhaul of federal transportation programs that is critical if the nation is to avoid steep cutbacks in highway and transit aid.

The bill is driven partly by election-year politics. Both Congress and President Barack Obama have made transportation infrastructure investment the centerpiece of their jobs agendas.

But the political imperative for passing a bill has been complicated by House Republicans' insistence on including a mandate for federal approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The White House has threatened to veto the measure if it retains the Keystone provision.

The government's authority to spend highway trust fund money expires June 30. The fund, which pays for roads and transit, is forecast to go broke sometime next year.