Boehner: Tie next highway bill to drilling expansion

“There’s a natural link between the two: As we develop new sources of American energy, we’re going to need modern infrastructure to bring that energy to the market,” Boehner said, arguing that expanding domestic energy production would improve the economy and create jobs.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) is threatening to hold up consideration of a bill to extend highway spending through March. The House passed the bill, which includes an extension of funding for the Federal Aviation Administration, earlier this week.

Passage of a longer-term highway funding bill is being held up over a disagreement between Republicans and Democrats over funding levels.

Boehner also said he supports closing tax loopholes as part of a broader effort to reform the tax code, though he offered no specifics.

“Yes, tax reform should include closing loopholes,” Boehner said. “Not for purposes of bringing more money to the government, but because it’s the right thing to do.”

Boehner’s comments could signal support for eliminating billions of dollars in tax breaks for the oil industry, a proposal Democrats in Congress have been pushing for months.

But Boehner stressed that the supercommittee, which is charged with finding $1.5 trillion in deficit cuts by Thanksgiving, should not endorse proposals that result in tax increases.

“Tax increases, however, are not a viable option for the joint committee,” Boehner said. “It’s a very simple equation. Tax increases destroy jobs. And the joint committee is a jobs committee. Its mission is to reduce the deficit that is threatening job creation in our country.”