12/2/2011 11:00:00 AM
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Tom Biery/Trans Pixs
Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) said this week he will not introduce a highway bill until next year, with the latest extension for transportation spending scheduled to run out March 31.
Mica â€” who chairs the House Transportation Committee and had planned to introduce his bill by the end of the year â€” announced the delay during a gathering of transportation experts at the University of Virginia on Tuesday.
He said the House schedule did not allow him enough time to present a bill this month.
Mica spokesman Justin Harclerode said: â€œRepublican leadership and the committee remain committed to moving this important infrastructure jobs bill early next year, likely in January or February.â€�
Mica assured those at the transportation gathering that lawmakers â€œcould still complete action in the House and move to conference with the Senate on a timely basis,â€� said John Horsley, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.
â€œHe also stated that he thought that as far as he was concerned the March 31 deadline was a hard deadline and that would force the House and Senate to take action by the deadline,â€� Horsley said.
Once it adjourns for the holiday season, however, the House is not back in session until Jan. 17 and has scheduled one-week recesses in both February and March.
The House and Senate have been working separate tracks for a highway bill, with a key Senate panel passing a two-year reauthorization measure, while Mica and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) have said they will propose a five-year highway bill.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a recent interview with the Peoria (Ill.) Star-Journal, that Congress must pass a highway bill before the end of the year or states will be unable to hire workers in time for the 2012 construction season.
A reauthorization bill â€œreally translates into jobs for America,â€� LaHood told his hometown newspaper.
Meanwhile, House Democrats, led by the minorityâ€™s ranking member on the Transportation Committee, Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W. Va.), introduced a bill Wednesday that would require such things as steel for transportation and other infrastructure projects to be made in America.
Â© 2011, Transport Topics Publishing Group. All rights reserved.
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