House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica says a proposed six-year, $285 billion transportation plan will “be the core of not just the Republican but the congressional jobs effort.”
“"This could put people to work long term and build the country's infrastructure,” the Florida Republican told reporters Monday. “We can have a positive outcome and put people to work.”
Mica’s statement signaled he wants to push the long-delayed surface reauthorization measure rather than focus on a separate, broader White House jobs bill that may come with highway spending attached.
But Mica said he and other House Republicans have not determined where more than $55 billion needed to augment the Highway Trust Fund would come from. House Republicans have ruled out raising the federal fuel tax, but Mica said replacing the gas tax with a new revenue tax is being considered.
He didn’t say whether a vehicle miles tax on all users would replace the current system. The GOP is also determining whether it can also prop up the transportation bill with oil drilling income.
Support for increased infrastructure investment — to create jobs in the short-term and improve the nation’s competitiveness over the longer term — has increased over the last few months as the economy has stagnated. President Obama’s attempt to increase infrastructure spending through a jobs bill failed, but the president plans to push components of the plan in bits and pieces through Congress.
Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif, and James Inhofe, R-Okla, are proposing a $109 billion, two-year transportation plan to function as a stopgap until Congress creates a long-term spending strategy.
Under the proposal, $12 billion more would be spent than what comes into the Highway Trust Fund, and the senators have yet to decide how to make up for the shortfall.