The tentative agreement was on the same package Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had said Tuesday that they had shaken hands on, said a congressional Republican who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the measure's status. McConnell said he expected the House to accept the agreement.
"We're moving, I think, towards an agreement on a transportation bill that would also include a one-year fix on the student loan rate increase," Boehner told reporters early Wednesday after meeting privately with House Republicans.
Some GOP lawmakers at that meeting said Boehner seemed to favor the emerging deal and said it received a positive reception.
"The general sense is there's a tremendous amount of support for getting it done," said Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y. "That's what's going to drive it across the finish line."
The two parties spent the last several weeks dueling over how to pay for the $6 billion cost of the student loan bill.
Under the agreement, the government would raise $5 billion by changing how companies calculate the money they have to set aside for pensions. That change would make their contributions more consistent from year to year and in effect reduce their payments initially, lowering the tax deductions they receive for their pension contributions.
Another $500 million would come from increasing the fees companies pay for the government to insure their pension plans, linking those fees to inflation.
In addition, $1.2 billion would be saved by limiting federal subsidies of Stafford loans to six years for undergraduates.
Lawmakers decided to wrap in another Senate bill to reauthorize the national flood insurance program for five years.
The program, which provides federally backed insurance for 5.6 million households and businesses, many in flood-prone areas, has gone deeply into the red from claims after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The Senate legislation would try to return the program to fiscal soundness through such steps as allowing premium increases and reducing subsidies for vacation homes.