First, the House and Senate pledged they’d have a bill marked up by Memorial Day. Then it was definitely going to come in June. (One staffer even told me that they were still planning on it coming “in the spring,” so it would be before the summer solstice — June 21.) But it looks like we might finally get a first glimpse of the fight ahead.
Tomorrow, House Transportation Committee Chair John Mica (R-FL) is “rolling out” the House version of the bill – but only an outline. It’s unclear when he’s going to formally introduce the bill. Jeff Davis of Transportation Weekly says it “does not appear that the text of the draft bill will be released at or shortly after the Thursday press conference, or will even be released this week.”
Davis goes on:
If the legislative text of Mica’s bill is not released this week, then that will make it almost impossible for Mica to go ahead and have the full T&I Committee mark up his bill on Tuesday, July 12, as he had earlier promised. Although it is theoretically possible for Mica to release the text of the bill on Monday and then mark the bill up on Tuesday (Rule III(a) of the T&I rules of procedure only require a 24-hour public availability of any legislation before a markup), it is unlikely that rank-and-file Republican members would be comfortable voting on a lengthy bill spending hundreds of billions of dollars on such short notice. (And Democrats are unlikely to support the bill at all, meaning that only four or five GOP “no” votes would sink the bill.)
The path forward for the bill is unclear, since House leadership is still not planning to bring the bill to a vote on the floor before the August recess, and the word on the street is that they’re actively asking Mica to hold off on sending a bill to the full Congress.
Meanwhile, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) about to begin a press conference about the need to pass a bill. Is she getting frustrated, too, by all these delays? We’ll bring you coverage of her remarks shortly.