House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) announced on Nov. 30 that his committee would not take up surface transportation reauthorization legislation until late January or early February 2012.
It had been anticipated that the T&I Committee would introduce its bill on Monday, Dec. 5, and that the committee would markup the bill next Thursday, with the expectation that the bill would be considered by the full House before the end of the year. Those expectations were based on a recent announcement by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) that a combined transportation and energy bill would be completed in the House this year. However, the number of “must-pass” bills that need to be addressed in the House before the end of the year increased significantly when the Super Committee failed to agree on a deficit-reduction package which led the House leadership to determine that there is insufficient time to address these bills and take up the transportation measure. Mica expressed optimism that the transportation bill could be completed before the current short-term extension expires on March 31, 2012.
Postponement of the committee markup also will result in a delay in release of the bill. Both Mica and Boehner have indicated that the bill will be a five-year measure that will be supported by new Highway Trust Fund revenue. Boehner also said that revenue generated from oil and gas royalties tied to increased oil exploration both off shore and in Alaska will be directed to the Highway Trust Fund. Mica also has indicated that there will be major reforms in both the highway and transit programs as well as in project delivery and environmental reviews. However, no legislative language has yet been provided.