Mica: Transpo Bill Lasts Through September 2014
I was not expecting this: Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair John Mica (R-FL) just released a statement saying “the tentative agreement establishes federal highway, transit and highway safety policy and keeps programs at current funding levels through the end of fiscal year 2014.” That’s a full year longer than the Senate bill allowed for.
This will no doubt please states, local governments, and the construction industry, which have long complained that a short bill wouldn’t do enough to give them the certainty they need to move big projects.
Still, given the contortions the Senate Finance Committee had to perform just to get the bill funded through September 2013 — the expiration date of the Senate bill — it’ll be very interesting to see what had to happen to finance this thing for a whole extra year without the Highway Trust Fund going bust.
It’s not just that the clock is starting so much later than the Senate bill (an outline of which was drafted nearly a year ago). Money from the bill will be used retroactively to pay for the amount the country has been overspending the HTF as it continually extended the current transportation program without paying for it, according to a Capitol Hill aide.
An aide to the committee told Streetsblog he expects the full text of the conference report to be available sometime tonight. We’ll bring you more details as we have them.
Mica says he plans to have everything wrapped up by 9:00 tonight so that conferees can vote on the final report sometime between 9:00 and 11:00. Due to an extremely creative interpretation of the three-day rule, a vote tonight allows the full House to vote on the report early Friday morning. (The three-day rule derives from Republican indignance at being asked to vote on the health care bill without enough time to read it. At the time, three days meant 72 hours.