Senior House Transportation Leaders Introduce Senate Transportation Bill, Urge Immediate Consideration
– Bill Creates or Saves More than 2 Million American Jobs –
Washington, D.C. – Senior Members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee today joined with more than 80 Members of the House of Representatives to introduce the bipartisan job-creating Senate transportation bill that passed last week by a vote of 74 to 22 and called on House Republicans to abandon their partisan transportation bill and bring the Senate bill up for immediate consideration.
“With more than 2.7 million construction and manufacturing workers out of work, enough with the political games. With tens of millions more seeking a better life, it is far past the time to stop the brinkmanship,” said U.S. Representative Nick J. Rahall (D-WV), top Democrat on the Committee and cosponsor of the bill. “If Congress does not act, the highway, transit, and safety programs will shut down a week from Saturday, on March 31. Let us seize the moment to move forward, without procedural gimmicks, without partisan political posturing, and do what is right for America. Let us do our jobs so that the American people can go back to theirs. Let us send the Senate bill to the President.”
The Members introduced the Senate’s bipartisan “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21)” (H.R 14), to move our Nation forward and create desperately needed jobs. The surface transportation authorization bill is by far the biggest jobs legislation Congress will consider this year. If House Republican leaders prevent the Senate bill from reaching the President before the March 31st expiration of highway program funding, Republicans will be responsible for devastating job losses across the Nation.
"Once again, the partisan agenda of the GOP leadership has brought the nation to the brink, this time regarding necessary investments in upgrading America's infrastructure for the 21st century," said U.S. Representative Tim Bishop (D-NY), lead sponsor of the legislation. "MAP-21 received overwhelming bipartisan support in the Senate due to its huge potential for job creation. I have introduced the bill in the House to allow a bipartisan majority in this chamber to pass it as well and move our nation forward. More delay is unacceptable, and would be the latest example--and most literal--of the House leadership's 'my-way-or-the highway' approach to governing. Putting Americans back to work is clearly not a priority for House Republicans."
Unlike the House bill, which slashes funding and destroys 550,000 jobs, MAP-21 continues current funding levels, sustaining approximately 1.9 million family-wage American jobs. Under the Senate bill, the States will receive $3.8 billion more in highway construction funding than the House bill over the course of the next two years.
“The Senate passed a bipartisan transportation bill by an overwhelming majority. Instead of taking it up immediately, the House Republican leadership is using it as a bargaining chip to get the fanatical transportation devolutionists in line to support their job-killing transportation bill H.R. 7,” said U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR), top Democrat on the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit. “The Senate bill isn’t perfect, but it is vastly superior to their House alternative. House leaders must stop with the pointless short term political posturing, pass the bipartisan Senate transportation bill, put millions of Americans back to work, rebuild the crumbling infrastructure in this country, and improve our nation’s economic competitiveness.”
At a time when 50 percent of our roads are in disrepair, 70,000 bridges are structurally deficient, and transit ridership was up a staggering 235 million trips last year, the Senate bill provides critical infrastructure upgrades in all 50 States. The Senate transportation bill maintains investments for highways and public transportation, consolidates and streamlines highway programs, strengthens safety, establishes a national freight program, and institutes performance measures and improves accountability for transportation infrastructure investments.
“As we approach the start of construction season, we need to come together to pass a highway bill that will improve our infrastructure and, most importantly, create jobs. Instead, Republicans in the House continue their ‘my way or the highway’ approach that is now leading to a ‘kick the can down the road’ extension,” said Rahall. “The Senate bill is a fair bipartisan compromise. It will provide the certainty that States need to invest and proceed with their plans long on the books. It will provide the certainty that highway and transit contractors desperately need to give them the confidence to hire that one more worker.”
The Senate bill eliminates many of the gaping loopholes in current law “Buy America” requirements – loopholes that are being exploited by foreign competitors, like China, who are stealing American jobs. MAP-21 includes critical elements of Rahall’s “Invest in American Jobs Act of 2011” (H.R. 3533), and eliminates these loopholes to give American workers a fair shot.