Rep. Mica: Supporters of spending more than original GOP highway bill 'smoking the funny weed'


Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) pulled the transportation bill, which would have spend about $52 billion per year on road and transit projects over the next five years, from the floor when it became clear before the recess that he did not have the votes to pass the measure.

Boehner has signaled he would scale back the highway bill, and speaking at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials's (AASHTO) legislative briefing this week, Mica said that transportation advocates who criticized the GOP for not spending more than the original $260 billion were in an altered state.

"Anyone who thinks it's going to get better after this next election, you're smoking the funny weed, because it's not going to happen," the usually colorful Mica told the AASHTO group in remarks he delivered on Tuesday.

"Exactly what we're going to do, I want to be perfectly frank, I can't tell you at this point," he said. "We're discussing a host of options."

But Mica told transportation supporters that "this Congress is going to have some means of paying for any of the expenditures."

Boehner's office has said in addition to shortening the length of the highway reauthorization from five years, the Speaker would also likely scrap the proposal to remove transit funding from the highway trust fund that was criticized by Democrats and several Northeast Republicans.

Mica said he was "willing to work with the transit people to see if we can try pacify both sides.

"Some aren't big transit fans — you figure this one — and then pacify those who want a little bit more stability in the funding than they feel they have," he said.

But Mica also said he was "befuddled" by transportation advocates' objection to his proposal to eliminate a redirection of 2.86 cents of the 18.4 cents per gallon that is brought in by federal gas tax to a special account for public transit.

"The transit community, who has no source of revenue, is demanding that they stay and get a share of the trust fund, which, one, they don't contribute to, and two, the trust fund is not going anywhere," Mica said. "If anything, it's going to go down in its revenue as vehicles switch out to alternative fuels." 

GOP leaders have said the revamped highway bill is unlikely to be brought up for a vote on the floor of the House this week.