CQ TODAY ONLINE NEWS – TRANSPORTATION & INFRASTRUCTURE
March 29, 2012 – 2:01 p.m.
House GOP Leaders Predict Passage of Long-Term Highway Bill After Recess
By Nathan Hurst, CQ Staff
With a 90-day extension of surface transportation programs expected to be on its way to President Obama’s desk later Thursday, House Republican leaders expressed confidence they will be able to move a longer-term measure shortly after the two-week recess.
But it was clear Thursday that the GOP majority will have to pass its five-year, $260 billion measure (
“What miracle will come upon us after we come back?” Minority Leader
Republicans say they need more time to round up support for the five-year package that has been stalled since mid-February. That bill, introduced Jan. 31 by Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman
Mica and other Republicans have been modifying the bill in response to concerns among rank-and-file Republicans, but they say they need more time to seal a deal and send their legislation to a conference with the Senate-passed bill.
Mica has said he is willing to retain the Mass Transit Account, which receives 20 percent of Highway Trust Fund receipts to subsidize public transportation. Changes are also likely in the bill’s bus and truck safety provisions, and pressure is building from a variety of interest groups for new language regarding drunk driving, licensing of teenage drivers and pre-tax parking and transit benefits.
Aides will continue during the recess to discuss transportation issues with recently elected lawmakers. That effort will be supported by stakeholder groups eager for a long-term reauthorization.
“It’ll give us time to work on a bill that will provide certainty,” said
“They want to devolve it back to the states,” DeFazio said, suggesting that House GOP conservatives want to drastically reduce the federal role in transportation. “They want to go back to the pre-1950s.”
A number of conservative Republicans have publicly and privately voiced a desire for “devolution” measures that would return responsibility for transportation funding to the states. Sen.
Richard E. Cohen contributed to this story.