House GOP Takes the Plunge, Unveils Transportation and Energy Plan Today

UPDATE 12:00: Leaders did not introduce a bill, but outlined their plan in rather vague terms. More to come.

At 11:15 this morning, House Speaker John Boehner, House Transportation Chair John Mica, Natural Resources Chair Doc Hastings (R-WA) and Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) will take the podium to unveil their transportation and energy bill. It’s likely to take the basic outline of the bill Mica announced in the summer, add enough money (about $15 billion a year) to maintain current spending levels (though not necessarily accounting for inflation, as Sen. Barbara Boxer’s bill does) and give some sense, at least, of how they’ll pay for that extra $15 billion.

According to Transportation Nation‘s Todd Zwillich, the leaders will introduce a five-year bill — not a six-year bill, which Mica had militantly supported, but still much longer than the two-year life span of the Senate bill. Industry officials from trucking, construction, and other sectors have generally supported the longer time horizon in the House bill and the more robust funding levels in the Senate bill. If the House matches those funding levels, that could swing industry support squarely over to the House bill. The major roadblock, of course, is the controversial and unproven way the GOP plans to pay for it.

Democrats will surely balk at the plan to raise transportation money by expanding energy production, but the fossil fuel industry is sure to throw its full weight behind it.

Stivers’ presence at the press conference settles speculation as to which oil-drilling-for-infrastructure-money bill the Republicans would choose. It seems Stivers’ bill has won out. A Natural Resources subcommittee will hold a hearing on his bill tomorrow.

The plan the GOP leaders announce this morning will set their agenda for the rest of the year. Boehner has already said he wants the bill passed by the end of the year.