House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica told industry groups he is looking for more revenue to boost his planned transport spending measure, but that it cannot include a hike in the federal gasoline tax.
Mica, R-Fla., told stakeholder groups on Thursday that he was cleared by House GOP leadership to find additional revenue beyond what's now coming into the Highway Trust Fund, said a congressional source said. The Transportation Weekly newsletter reported Mica wants to find about $15 billion more annually to pay for a long-term transportation bill, without raising the gas tax.
That would be a big change from earlier this year, when Mica unveiled an outline of proposed legislation to spend $230 billion over six years for surface transportation based on anticipated trust fund receipts. The House Appropriations Committee later voted for those spending limits as well.
That is well below current levels and backers of more robust transportation spending sharply criticized GOP spending limits for road projects, saying they would wipe out many construction jobs and worsen U.S. infrastructure. Those groups also praised an early Senate vote that would keep funding road and bridge programs at current levels, and renew a popular federal grant program that the House would have let lapse.
This week, a high-powered group of freight shipper CEOs told top leaders of the House and Senate that businesses need Congress to make stronger infrastructure investments. The executives said such spending is important to help the economy grow and U.S. firms to export their goods.
A congressional source said Mica and John Duncan, R-Tenn., who chairs the highway subcommittee, told groups that House leaders are now “committed to looking for additional revenue” for a long-term bill, which would also reform and consolidate some transport spending programs to get more bang for the buck.