LaHood: Prospect for new highway bill 'not good' in House

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"I think the prospects in the House are not good," LaHood said.

"I think after the debacle with the farm bill, the way that it played out where it seemed as though anybody who wanted an amendment could offer an amendment, they got their amendment voted on, and then they decided to vote against the bill, even though their amendment was included in the final bill," LaHood continued. "That's not the way to engender the kind of … bipartisanship that existed when I voted for a farm bill or when I voted for a transportation bill."

LaHood contrasted the House's failed attempt to pass a funding bill for farm programs recently with the ongoing debate over immigration in the Senate.

"I think the prospects [for a highway bill] are pretty good in the Senate," LaHood said. "When you look at the debate on immigration, it's pretty healthy. It looks like they're going to get a bill in the Senate … I think when immigration passes the Senate, which obviously it's going to do, it will send a good signal that there's going to be progress on other issues, including transportation."

LaHood said it would important for Foxx and Congress to begin working right away on trying to find a new funding source for transportation, however. 

The current surface transportation bill contains about $54 billion per year for road and transit projects. But the traditional funding source for transportation bills, the 18.4 cent-per-gallon federal gas tax, only brings in about $35 billion.

The gap was filled in the last Transportation bill by a combination of fee increases and transfers from other trust funds in the federal budget.

LaHood warned on Thursday that could not continue to be a solution.

"It's no fun being way down the list for infrastructure [compared to other countries] and watching China build 85 airports this year," LaHood said.

LaHood expressed confidence that Foxx would continue the task of persuading lawmakers and the country that transportation funding is important, and he said that he would not go away completely.

"I'm retiring from this job. I'm not retiring from life," he said.

LaHood said he does not have any firm plans, but he said he would look to continue his push for more safety measures at nonprofits.

"I'm going to take July and August and hope the phone rings and see who's on the other end," he said. "Then I'll get to the fall and make a decision."

LaHood said he would most likely split time going forward between his hometown of Peoria, Ill., and Washington.