Water coolers abuzz about big changes to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
By Chrissy Mancini Nichols
Nov 4, 2010
This post first appeared at metroplanning.org
Tuesday’s election has the transportation world abuzz about the change in leadership of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. As expected, Republicans gained control of the House, which means the chairmanship of the committee will most likely go to Rep. John Mica (R-Fla). However, current Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn.) surprisingly lost his re-election bid, so the Democratic leadership of the committee remains unclear.
Also unclear is what this all means for the reauthorization of the multi-year transportation bill, which expired last year. Mica, has been a supporter of high-speed rail especially in the Northeast Corridor (including his home state Florida), where he believes that a true high-speed rail system would be more appropriate. He hasn’t yet said how he would pay for an infrastructure plan or high speed rail expansion.
Regardless of the outcome of the election, Congress is likely to take up the long-term reauthorization of the transportation bill in 2011. Xav Briggs, associate director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, told MPC staff last week to watch for the Administration’s proposal for a multi-year program, building on President Obama’s labor-day proposal, to create jobs and support livable communities. Yesterday, the President said infrastructure is an issue through which the two parties could find common ground. Previous infrastructure bills have been passed by divided governments under presidents Nixon, Reagan, George H. W. Bush and Clinton as noted by Transportation for America.