House GOP Slows Down Its Rush to Introduce Oil-and-Infrastructure Bill

Just this morning, Politico was reporting that the House would introduce the legislative text of its transportation proposal on Monday, but just a few short hours ago, House Transportation Committee Chair John Mica gave a speech at the University of Virginia in which he said there would be no movement on the bill until next year. He also sent some encouraging signals that his committee won’t draft a bill that’s all about highways.

Committee staffers say that “these things hinge on when we can get floor action,” and leadership isn’t promising to bring the bill to the floor until January. Congress is taking a long holiday break this year, not coming back into session until January 17, after which it will immediately be interrupted by party conferences [PDF]. Unless this calendar changes, there won’t be significant time to devote to consideration of a major bill until February.

Attention has shifted in recent days from the House T&I Committee to Natural Resources, where lawmakers have considered three bills to open up oil drilling, with the idea that the revenues from that drilling would somehow fund infrastructure. Of the three bills, only one says anything at all about infrastructure, and that one doesn’t say much.

During his speech, Mica also reportedly called himself a “knuckle dragging conservative” but said you can’t “pave over the entire country” and said he has no plans to “do away” with Transportation Enhancements funding of bicycle and pedestrian projects (though his original proposal did eliminate dedicated funding for it).