Bloomberg News

House to Address Infrastructure Bill by Year-End, Boehner Says

November 09, 2011

Nov. 6 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. House of Representatives will probably “move” on an infrastructure bill this year, said House Speaker John Boehner.

“You’re going to see the House move, I think, before the end of the year on an infrastructure bill,” Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said on ABC’s “This Week.” Boehner said last week the House will consider legislation to finance infrastructure construction, in part, by expanding energy production.

President Barack Obama said last week that Congress should act on a provision of his jobs plan to put $60 billion into infrastructure repairs. House Republicans want to make a six- year surface-transportation bill their “primary jobs bill,” Representative John Mica, the Florida Republican who heads the House transportation committee, said in October. Funding for highway and transit programs extends through March.

The inability of Democrats and Republicans in Congress to agree on spending this year almost caused a government shutdown and a default on the nation’s debt. During the summer, Boehner and Obama discussed a deficit-reduction package as they sought to agree on whether to increase U.S. borrowing limits.

As part of a debt-limit compromise Congress passed in August to avert the default, lawmakers designated a 12-member bipartisan panel to cut the deficit by $1.5 trillion.

“I have tried all year, with every fiber of my being, to try to get members on both sides of the aisle, try to get the president to get serious about dealing with our debt problem,” he said. “Nobody’s more upset that we couldn’t come to an agreement, the president and I, than I was.”

‘A Little Frosty’

Boehner, who played golf with Obama in June, said while his relationship with the president is “pretty good,” it has been “a little frosty” in recent weeks.

The so-called supercommittee is approaching a Nov. 23 deadline for reaching a deal. If the panel can’t agree, or if Congress doesn’t adopt its recommendations, across-the-board spending cuts of $1.2 trillion to defense and domestic programs would take effect in 2013.

Forty House Republicans and 60 Democrats sent a letter to the supercommittee Nov. 3 saying they would support revenue increases as part of the deal and asking the committee to aim for $4 trillion in cuts rather than the $1.5 trillion target.

The letter was meant to encourage committee members to think independently of party leaders, Representative Heath Shuler, a North Carolina Democrat, said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“The reason for the letter is to say ‘we have your back’” and that the 12-member bipartisan committee can “break from control” of their parties’ leadership, said Shuler, who led the letter-writing effort with Representative Mike Simpson, an Idaho Republican.

“We have to see more of the middle of the road,” Shuler said.

--With assistance from William McQuillen, James Rowley and Heidi Przybyla in Washington. Editors: Andrea Snyder, Ann Hughey

To contact the reporter on this story: Juliann Francis in Washington at jfrancis31@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Shepard at mshepard7@bloomberg.net


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