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Congress Reaches Bipartisan Deal On Transportation

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The region's lawmakers helped Congress pass a two-year extension of a transportation bill that increases safety standards on D.C.'s Metro system.

Not since 2005 has Congress passed a long-term extension to the U.S. transportation program. This extension includes some important safety provisions for transit systems across the U.S., which Maryland Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski fought for after nine people died in a Red Line crash in 2009.

"It will ensure that people are properly trained, that there is the proper use of technology, that we have crash-worthy cars," said Mikulski. "And this is important, because this legislation affects not only Washington Metro, but every subway system in the United States."

The compromise package was hard for both parties to swallow, because it unwinds regulations for construction projects, which Democrats opposed, and it didn't address energy policy, for which Republicans had fought. Nonetheless, Mikulski says the new safety requirements for mass transit systems are a major step forward for the U.S.

"As it gets implemented, I think this will mean a lot in terms of saving lives and I think promoting efficiency," said Mikulski.

The legislation also will keep federally subsidized student interest rates low for another year.

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