Mica opens door to short-term highway bill

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In a speech Tuesday at the White House, Obama used the bully pulpit of the presidency to cast the passage of a federal highway bill in employment terms.

“If we allow the transportation bill to expire, over 4,000 workers will be furloughed without pay, Obama said. “If its delayed for merely 10 days, we will lose almost $1 billion in highway funds. Thats money we can never get back.

“Thats just not acceptable. Its inexcusable to put more jobs at risk in an industry thats already one of the hardest hit in the last decade.  

Obama also argued for Congress to pass an extension of the bill to fund the Federal Aviation Administration. The current version of the bill, passed this month after a two-week partial shutdown of the FAA, expires Sept. 16.

Mica said Tuesday afternoon, however, that despite the presidents sense of urgency on both transportation measures, Democrats were to blame for the bills brushing up against the deadline when lawmakers return to Washington.

“During their control, they neglected aviation legislation for more than four years and left major transportation legislation in the ditch for more than a year, Mica said.

Mica indicated Tuesday that he would be willing to talk about an FAA extension as well, but said he would have to talk to GOP leaders in the House first.

“I am returning to Washington to also consult with our Republican leadership before granting the 22nd FAA extension,” he said.