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Mica Seeks Temporary Extension for Transportation Funding

3/20/2012 3:30:00 PM
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WASHINGTON — House Transportation Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) said Tuesday that a temporary extension will be unveiled as early as Wednesday and voted on next week in order to keep highway projects and public transit from shutting down at the end of March.

The extension, would be the ninth in more than two years, is necessitated by Congress’ failure to replace SAFETEA-LU, the last long-term transportation reauthorization, which expired in September 2009. That extension expires on March 31.

Pressure is building for the House to act on a long-term reauthorization bill after the Senate last week voted 74-22 for a two-year, $109 billion highway bill.

During a rally for roads Tuesday on the National Mall, Mica appealed to the gathered construction workers, contractors and other transportation advocates to help him persuade House members to pass a transportation bill.

“There is no other bill before Congress this year that will put more people to work than a robust transportation bill that you can help me get passed,� Mica said. “I can’t get this done by myself.�

In the House, however, deep divisions in the Republican majority ranks over policy and funding have stymied Mica’s efforts to bring a bill to a vote. His proposal is for a five-year, $260-billion bill.

He said the Senate bill and his bill have many policy provisions in common but the length and spending levels vary dramatically, Mica said.

“Unfortunately, it bankrupts the [Highway] Trust Fund in 18 months, so, I’m trying to shoot for a longer term bill,� he said, adding that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) also wants a longer-term bill.

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