Player of the Week: Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.)

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) has said he would do anything to pass a highway bill this year.

The fate of the pending bill will be decided this month, and the chances of President Obama signing a multiyear measure are now less than 50-50. 

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House Democrats have accused Mica of shutting them out of the highway talks, noting that prior transportation bills have attracted bipartisan backing.

Mica has scoffed at those criticisms, noting that he and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) are close. 

During a March speech at the Ripon Society, he said, “Don’t let anyone tell you that Mica wasn’t bipartisan in this process.”

He added that he held transportation hearings across the country, including one in Los Angeles with Boxer, whom he called his “soul mate.”

However, the soul mates last week were throwing elbows at one another. 

Boxer, chairwoman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, criticized the House GOP for its handling of the legislation and has repeatedly urged the lower chamber to act on the highway bill that has already been passed by the Senate.

Mica and other Republicans balk at the bipartisan Senate measure, noting that it says nothing about the Keystone XL oil pipeline. House Republicans also have objected to the spending levels in the Senate bill.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) recently said that if a deal isn’t reached by the end of this month, the House will pass a short-term extension that would extend highway funding past the election. 

If that happens, the bill that is being negotiated is dead.

Mica, meanwhile, is in his last year heading the Transportation panel unless he is granted a waiver by House GOP leaders.

Should a transportation bill clear Congress this month, he would surely tout it on the campaign trail this summer. In mid-August, he will face Tea Party Rep. Sandy Adams (R-Fla.) in a fascinating primary contest set up by the redistricting process.