Boehner rebuffs report he’s lost confidence in Mica over highway bill

House Speaker John Boehner is pushing back on reports he has lost confidence in Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica's (R-Fla.) ability to shepherd a controversial transportation bill through the lower chamber.

Mica is a long-time congressman from Florida who has led the House Transportation Committee since 2010. He pushed a proposal for a five-year, $260 billion highway bill through the divided Transportation and Infrastructure Committee last month on a party-line vote that followed a marathon 18-hour hearing.

Congressional Quarterly reported Tuesday that Mica has been removed from control of the transportation bill after the measure has floundered in the House amid complaints from conservatives that it spends too much on roads and bridges, and criticism from Democrats that it does not spend enough. 

But a spokesman for Boehner said Tuesday afternoon that the Speaker "continues to have every confidence in Chairman Mica, and totally supports his continuing efforts to pass a transportation bill with key reforms including a link to expanded American energy supply — and no earmarks.”

The issue could be a moot point, however — separately on Tuesday, Boehner acknowledged the House might have to take up whatever transportation legislation emerges from the Senate, where a plan to spend $109 billion on road and transit projects over two years is seen as a more bipartisan approach than Mica and Boehner's proposal in the House.

Democrats have lined up in opposition to the transportation bill in the House, opposing both its cuts to public transportation funding and Boehner's plan to tie infrastructure spending to increased domestic oil drilling. Boehner had suggested he would scale back the transportation measure and reinstate the public transportation funding, but he said members of the GOP caucus still did not like the measure.

Asked Tuesday if the House might vote on the Senate's two-year, $109 billion reauthorization for transportation programs, Boehner replied: “That is an option.”

The Senate, however, failed to approve a procedural motion to move toward final passage of the transportation bill Tuesday.