Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says there's a "strong possibility" Congress will send a surface transportation bill to President Obama sooner rather than later.
LaHood said Friday he had "three or four" meetings with Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
"He and I agree that we'd like to have a transportation bill on the president's desk by the August recess," LaHood told reporters during a conference call.
"That's the kind of signal that needs to be sent to contractors, people who buy equipment, people that work on roads and bridges, that Congress is serious about putting people to work and that Congress is serious about improving infrastructure and the way to do that is to pass a significant, substantial transportation bill."
LaHood also said he met with Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W. Va., chair of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.
The secretary last month said he expected a long-delayed transportation bill to be approved this year. His remarks Friday show he thinks its odds are improving.
"I am optimistic," LaHood told reporters during a conference call Friday, "and I'm going to hold up my optimism until we see something very different."
LaHood didn't say how large that bill would or should be. A $500 billion, six-year plan proposed by former Rep. James L. Oberstar, D-Minn., never came up for a vote.
The last multi-year transportation spending plan expired two years ago.
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