Corrects spelling of "Boehner" in paragraphs 3 and 4.
(Adds quotes, details, background)
By Susan Cornwell
WASHINGTON, July 25 (Reuters) - U.S. House Majority Leader John Boehner said on Tuesday he hoped House and Senate negotiators could reach agreement on a bill to overhaul the private pension system later in the day.
"Things are moving towards a conclusion and I'm hopeful we'll have one today," Boehner, an Ohio Republican, told reporters.
But provisions to give special relief to struggling airlines had still not been finalized, Boehner said.
Other outstanding issues included Boehner's own proposal to make it easier for mutual fund companies to advise workers on investment choices for tax-deferred 401(k) retirement savings plans sponsored by employers.
"We're still working on it," he said of the investment advice provision.
But Boehner rejected a suggestion the way was cleared for the pension agreement after Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist decided not to try and add contentious legislation to cut estate taxes to the pension bill.
"I don't think it had anything to do with it," he said.
Senate and House lawmakers working on the pension bill had never discussed the possibility of adding the estate tax cut during their negotiations, he said.
Boehner said the aim of the pension legislation was to protect workers' pensions and prevent a taxpayer bailout of the agency that insures the pensions. There has been massive underfunding of employer-sponsored pensions and the agency that insures them is running a $22.8 billion deficit.
Under the proposed legislation, most companies will have seven years to make up pension underfunding. A point of contention has been how much extra relief to give struggling airlines.
Bankrupt carriers Delta Air Lines Inc. and Northwest Airlines Corp. want 20 additional years to pay off the underfunding in their pension plans. The airlines warned that, if they do not get such a provision by August, they may have to default on the pensions of thousands of their workers.