Mica “pretty confident” new House rules will not allow Highway Trust Fund abuse

Lawmakers will not be able to apply account toward items like the federal deficit, but can still reduce funding levels; Boxer to chair first hearing on long-term bill Jan. 26

News Streetsblog Capitol Hill; The Journal of Commerce January 11, 2011
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House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) was fairly confident that new House rules would not allow federal lawmakers to use the Highway Trust Fund as a way of improving the federal deficit, or other funds for that matter. However, the same assurance could not be made for guaranteed highway funding levels.

Mica met briefly with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and David Dreier (R-Calif.) last week and felt pretty confident that the Highway Trust Fund would not be subject to raids in the future.

“Through a colloquy that I did on the floor with [Dreier], we got a pretty good clarification that the funds would still be handled within the trust fund in the same manner, and that they would only be used for highway purposes,” Mica told the Journal of Commerce.

That is good news for Sen. Barbara Boxer, who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Boxer recently had what she described as an “excellent” meeting with Mica on the next “longer-term” highway bill, and will chair the first EPW hearing on it Jan. 26. Boxer, however, did warn that the removal of Highway Trust Fund firewalls would make it more difficult to construct a new funding package.

“If the Republicans plan to raid this fund then all of our plans to do more, to do it right, to do it better, even to do as much as we’ve done before, are thrown aside,” she said.

Still, under the new rules, House members will be able to offer amendments that might reduce highway funding.

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