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Congress overwhelmingly backs 5-year bill that boosts highway spending, assures states of aid

WASHINGTON – Congress has overwhelmingly approved a 5-year, $305 billion bill to address the nation’s aging and congested highways and bridges after years of stymied efforts.

The bill was approved 359 to 65 in the House, and 83 to 16 in the Senate. It now goes to the White House for President Barack Obama’s signature.

Support for the 1,300-page bill was helped by the inclusion of a generous sprinkling of industry favours, parochial projects, safety improvements and union demands.

The bill boosts highway and transit spending and assures states that federal help will be available for major projects. It doesn’t include as much money or last as long as many lawmakers and the Obama administration would have liked. Nor does it resolve how to pay for transportation programs in the long term.