Mica: House Republican conferees ready to negotiate highway reforms

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John L. Mica (R-Fla.) released the following statement after conferring with House Republican conferees of the ongoing transportation bill conference:

“I spoke by conference call with House Republican conferees this afternoon and we all remain committed to working toward a bicameral conference report that includes long overdue reforms to our nation’s highway programs. House conferees stand ready to negotiate in good faith but there must be a willingness on the part of the Senate to do the same.  We believe our solutions are fair and practicable. 

“For example, at a time when we should be consolidating and eliminating federal programs the Senate bill actually creates programs that cost $3 billion a year.  We in the House are opposed to that.  The Senate bill mandates that States spend scarce gas tax revenues on wildflowers and on other non-transportation programs while our nation’s bridges and roads are crumbling.  House Republicans believe we must significantly reduce the time it takes to build a major highway project in this country.  It takes 15 years on average to permit, design, and build a project and significantly increases the costs of these projects. Unfortunately, the Senate has refused to offer any substantive cuts to bureaucratic red tape associated with building a highway or bridge, and the Senate does not appear ready to compromise on the Keystone pipeline issue either.

“We will continue to work towards finding common sense reforms.  If an agreement cannot be reached the House will not allow these important programs to expire.”