Mica: Highway compromise will be the 'jobs bill for the 112th Congress'

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Mica said that negotiators were trying to finalize the tentative agreement between the chambers on the transportation bill so conferees could sign off on the measure late Wednesday evening. 

That would provide enough time for lawmakers to meet a 72-hour review rule in the House for pending legislation. Current highway funding is set to expire June 30. 

Asked if he was disappointed in the differences between the proposed compromise version of the transportation bill and the House's original proposal for a five-year, $260-billion bill that tied infrastructure spending to oil drilling, Mica said the agreement between the House and Senate contained what he wanted most.

"I tried to get the most long-term bill as possible...fully-funded," he said. "In this business, you have to deal with what support you have available."

The details of the agreement that emerged on Wednesday suggest lawmakers will approve 28 months of transportation funding at levels close to the Senate's original proposal of spending approximately $54 billion a year on road and transit projects.

The agreement helps lawmakers avoid a 10th extension of the transportation funding bill that was initially supposed to expire in 2009.

Transportation advocates had argued that a temporary extension without new revenue would bankrupt the Highway Trust Fund that traditionally pays for construction projects. The Congressional Budget Office projects the trust fund would run out of money as early as 2013 without Congress passing a new transportation bill.