House Republican leaders, pledging a transportation plan of unspecified scale and unstated length, said Thursday tapping into expanded domestic energy production could maintain infrastructure funding for “five to six years.”
Even with the specifics unresolved, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee John Mica, R-Fla., said they will introduce a measure in coming weeks that will compete with a two-year, $109 billion plan passed by the Democratic-led Senate.
The House bill “will support long-term job growth and use [energy production] revenue to improve roads and bridges,” Boehner said at a press conference.
"We don’t need more short-term stimulus gimmicks,” Boehner said. “We don’t need more red tape. And we surely don’t need higher taxes. What we need to do is get Washington out of the way and free job growth from the shackles of the government.”
Published reports said the Republican plan would come in at five years, making it longer than the Senate version but a year shorter than the usual six-year transportation funding measures. They also would seek to resolve a major impasse over funding for projects by tying the transportation plan to expanded domestic drilling of natural gas and oil.
The bill is estimated to have a roughly $75 billion funding shortfall. Some reports on scoring of previous energy exploration bills say only about $1 billion could be available. Boehner said all the details weren’t available yet.
Mica previously said the transportation plan would be for six years and total roughly $286 billion. Republicans have reportedly reduced the plan's length to five years, according to Transportation Nation and Transportation Weekly.
Under the American Energy & Infrastructure Jobs Act, the authorization of projects would be sped up by cutting the permitting process in half, and nearly 70 surface transportation programs either would be eliminated or consolidated.
The bill, which maintains a House ban on earmarks, would reform infrastructure financing programs to increase private sector investment, but they offered no details on incentives to private investors.
Mica kept up his attack on the competing two-year Senate transportation plan, saying the U.S. “just went through a two-year bill and it was disaster.” Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and James Inhofe, R-Okla., sponsors of the $109 billion bill, are looking to fill their plan’s $12 billion shortfall.