In a recent interview, Rep. John Mica, R-FL, the new chair of the House’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said he intends to focus on getting an FAA reauthorization bill passed first before tackling the long-term surface transportation bill.
Mica told The Journal of Commerce that his priority is passing an FAA bill, which has gone through 17 extensions since its expiration in 2007.
There still is some good news on the highway bill, though, which expired in 2009 and has since received seven Congressional extensions. Even though it will come second, Mica told the Journal he intends to hold “listening sessions” to gather input on the form the new highway bill should take, giving some stakeholders a chance influence the final bill.
“The first thing I plan to do is a series of hearings around the country, and listening sessions, and we’re going to start that probably about the 18th of February,” he said.
Mica is faced with finding ways to fund the highway bill, among many other critical items. He also wants to quicken the length of time it takes projects to get completed. Currently, from conception to ribbon-cutting, the average highway project takes 14 years to complete, Brian Deery, senior director of highway and transportation for the Associated General Contractors of America, told me.
“Mica is very focused on delivering projects quickly,” Deery said.
Completing a highway bill may be easier if Mica can get it done before September.
“Mr. Mica wants to move out quickly, as we understand, because once we get past August, we start getting into a presidential cycle,” Mary Phillips, senior vice president of legislative affairs for the American Trucking Associations, told me last month.
I’m sure Mica wants to move quickly, he just doesn’t want to clog the runway.