Early reports have spilled some of the beans on Rep. John Mica’s proposal for the next transportation reauthorization, which he’s rolling out for reporters in an hour. (Note that he’s still not formally introducing the bill and we’ll have no draft legislative text to pore over. With luck, he’ll at least give a timeline today for when that’s coming.)
Here’s what we’re hearing:
- It’s a six-year bill, putting it immediately into conflict with the Senate’s two-year proposal.
- It will allocate $35 billion a year, although that would make it a $210 billion bill over six years and most of the reports we’re seeing say $230 billion. Unclear where that extra $20 billion comes from, or if it’s an error.
- The way we calculate this, it’s almost a 40 percent cut from existing levels. (SAFETEA-LU allocated $286 billion over five years, equaling $57.2 billion per year.) The Ryan budget had called for a 30 percent cut.
- Rather than establish a national infrastructure bank, as called for by the president and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle (though mostly Democrats), Mica’s bill would bolster state infrastructure banks. Thirty-two states already have infrastructure banks.
- Mica says he won’t raise TIFIA over and above Highway Trust Fund levels, as the Senate bill does.
- Mica says he thinks private investment will fill in some of the gaps in what the government can fund.
- Mica appears to feel hamstrung by the extreme fiscal conservatism that’s overtaken the House since the new class was sworn in in January. “Have you seen the votes on the floor,” he told reporters yesterday. “They would vote down a Mother’s Day resolution if it had extra spending. That is the climate we’re in.”
We’ll bring you more details following Mica’s briefing, as well as a press conference by Democrats with their response.