Tea and Transportation

Tea and Transportation

As chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Rep. John Mica sees no future in battling with the Tea Party-style influence on Congress and is urging spending advocates to follow his lead.

“This is a whole new crowd,” he told a shipper audience recently. “This crowd would probably vote down a Mother’s Day resolution if it had a price-tag connected to it.”

But Mica also told reporters those activists have “seen a lot of misuse and abuse of taxpayer dollars, and spending out of control, on stuff that really hasn’t been that productive.”

The chairman said he met recently “with the Tea Party folks and explained my position on this (legislation). And they said, you know, if people understand it, they’ll support it.”

For his transportation policy goals, “when you sit down and explain it, they’re on board with what we’re trying to do, which is more with less, cut government red tape and bureaucracy, and then come up with projects that make sense.”

He said he met with them partly “to also bring them on board, for positive results. And I came away feeling very good.”

Part of that discussion included controlling the message about needed infrastructure investments while spending dollars better. “They expressed a need to communicate and to also educate the membership,” Mica said, “and then properly direct them.”

And, he said, the disciplined votes in a GOP-controlled House trump all the studies and warnings about the need for greater infrastructure spending. As he told one transport advocate who tried to describe the return on federal infrastructure investment, “218 votes beats the best argument you can come up with.”

Contact John D. Boyd at jboyd@joc.com.