House Republicans are offering a three-month extension to the country's transportation legislation that would prevent infrastructure projects nationwide from being put on hold when the existing legislation expires at the end of the month.
Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), chair of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, announced that he'll offer a three-month extension to the legislation that funds the country's highways and transit systems. Without such a temporary extension -- and given that the House and Senate won't pass a long-term highway and transit bill this month -- the transportation program would expire at the end of the March.
The short-term extension will likely be a relief to those in the transportation community, who have feared the implications of letting the existing legislation expire.
Mica has shown his willingness to play chicken with legislation in the past. Last year, when the Federal Aviation Administration authorization was nearing its expiration, Mica introduced and the House passed a temporary extension that would have averted an FAA shutdown -- but included some controversial policy changes Democrats opposed. Senate Democrats called his bluff and refused to pass it. The legislation expired, and without an extension, many FAA employees were unable to work.
Importantly, Mica noted that his transportation extension won't include changes to current transportation policy.
At a high-speed rail event last month in Washington last month, Mica alluded to the FAA debate and seemed to suggest the House may take a similar approach with the highway and transit extension.
"That's another option," Mica said at the time. "It may not be a good one, but sometimes you have to take tough steps to move people off dead center here."