Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In
Federal Funding

Mica Warns Boxer on Highway Trust Fund; House Plans Hearing on “Drill Bill”

1:16 PM EST on November 15, 2011

“I want to congratulate you on your Committee’s approval of the ‘Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act,” begins House Transportation Committee Chair John Mica’s letter yesterday to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee.

false

From there, the letter changes tone:

However, I am concerned that the Senate two-year proposal does not address the fundamental problem of the long-term insolvency of our Highway Trust Fund. Your proposal will essentially bankrupt the Highway Trust Fund and make it impossible to provide any funding for fiscal year 2014.

The letter continues the debate between Mica and Boxer over how to supplement revenue from the national gas tax to fund transportation spending. It's Mica’s response to a letter he received from Boxer three weeks ago, in which she questioned whether or not his plan truly maintained current funding levels.

Mica agrees with Boxer that current funding levels should be maintained (though her bill calls for current spending plus inflation, which Mica hasn’t bought into yet). But he has a problem with the fact that the Senate hasn't identified the new sources of revenue necessary to do that. (He says he's working on that himself.)

Mica attached a CBO report showing Highway Trust Fund deficits beginning in 2014 under Boxer’s scenario. Boxer has said that with the additional $12 billion from some other, yet-unidentified source, her bill will keep the HTF afloat. Current levels of spending, funded only with Trust Fund receipts, would start creating deficits even sooner – the Highway Account would run into red ink this fiscal year and the Transit Account in the next fiscal year.

EPW committee staff did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Mica’s letter, but it stands to reason that the Senate proposal doesn't address 2014, since it's a two-year bill.

So what’s Mica’s solution to the funding predicament? He hasn’t publicly embraced the stated GOP path toward transportation solvency -- capturing revenue from fossil fuel extraction -- but neither has he spoken out against the idea of expanding oil drilling to fund infrastructure.

That plan is about to move forward another step in the House. When House Speaker John Boehner said the House would vote soon on a bill to expanding energy production, Streetsblog wondered if he was referring to one of the bills that have already been introduced, and we couldn’t get the answer out of anyone.

Then, lo, Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) announced he was introducing a third drilling-for-infrastructure bill: the American-Made Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act. Stivers links concerns about “rising energy costs, high unemployment and our aging infrastructure” and proposes solving them by opening up “untapped oil resources in the Outer Continental Shelf that will raise revenue from new off-shore drilling leases and provide a new dedicated source of revenue to fund infrastructure projects.” For more detail, check out the bill language here [PDF].

The House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources is holding a hearing on that bill Friday morning, followed that afternoon with a hearing on the virtues of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (though not necessarily for infrastructure – that’s just for the fun of it).

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

Community Board Backs DOT Road Diet for Brooklyn’s Deadly Third Av.

“This is just a beginning of what we could do to fix our community,” said one board member. “This is not done, this is not where we finish off.”

February 23, 2024

Friday’s Headlines: More Lunch Consumption Edition

Streettilms goes to Paris. Plus more news.

February 23, 2024

Advocates Slam Albany Pols for Using Transit Fund to Encourage Driving

Gov. Hochul and state legislators in Albany are misspending millions of dollars on toll rebates for drivers while showing zero interest actual bus or rail ideas, transit advocates charged.

February 23, 2024

Serious Crash in Greenpoint Again Reveals Flaws in City Design, Enforcement Against Reckless Drivers

A woman was seriously injured — and is clinging to life — because a driver with a long record of recklessness slammed into her on a Greenpoint Street as she came home with milk.

February 22, 2024

POWER PLAY: City Moves to Put Thousands More E-Car Chargers on the Sidewalk

We should stop and think before giving over curbside space to car drivers, a mistake the city made in the 1950s.

February 22, 2024
See all posts