Conference Report on H.R. 22, Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015by Representative Bill Shuster
Posted on 2015-12-03
SHUSTER. Mr. Speaker, pursuant to House Resolution 546, I call up
the conference report on the bill (H.R. 22) to authorize funds for
Federal-aid highways, highway safety programs, and transit programs,
and for other purposes, and ask for its immediate consideration.
The Clerk read the title of the bill.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to House Resolution 546, the conference report is considered read.
(For conference report and statement, see proceedings of the House of December 1, 2015, at page H8679.) The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Shuster) and the gentleman from Oregon (Mr. DeFazio) each will control 30 minutes.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Pennsylvania.
General Leave Mr. SHUSTER. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous material on the conference report to accompany H.R. 22.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Pennsylvania? There was no objection.
Mr. SHUSTER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
I am very pleased that today the House is considering the conference report to H.R. 22, the Fixing America's Surface Transportation, or the FAST Act.
I believe this bill will be one of the most important things this Congress can accomplish for our country. This conference report is appropriately named the FAST Act for a few reasons.
It will certainly help fix America's surface transportation infrastructure. The process has been fast. In fact, from the day of introduction until today is 44 days that we have moved this bill forward; so, it happened fast.
I think some of our staff, who worked very hard in this process to help get this bill done, actually had to fast over the Thanksgiving holiday. So my thanks go out to staff on both sides of the aisle for working through the holiday as they did to get this bill put together and brought to the floor.
Ranking Member DeFazio and I worked diligently with our House and Senate conferees to put together this conference report. I want to thank Mr. DeFazio for all his efforts.
Before I describe the transportation provisions in the conference report, I do want to note that the conference report includes numerous other provisions that were in either the House- or the Senate-passed versions of the bill. These provisions are in the jurisdiction of the Committees on Ways and Means, Financial Services, Energy and Commerce, Natural Resources, and Judiciary.
Mr. Speaker, since I became chairman, one of my top priorities has been to pass a long-term surface transportation reauthorization bill. For the last year and more, I have traveled across the country to talk to transportation and business leaders about the need for a reauthorization bill. What I have heard is that all States and communities have significant infrastructure needs and they all need long-term certainty to address them.
The FAST Act represents a bipartisan and bicameral agreement to provide that certainty. This is the first time we have come together in a long-term bill in 10 years. It is fully paid for and reauthorizes Federal surface transportation programs for 5 years.
It improves our Nation's infrastructure, including our roads, public transportation, and rail systems; reforms our Federal transportation programs; refocuses these programs on national priorities, including the flow of freight and commerce; provides greater flexibility for States and local governments to address our needs; streamlines the Federal bureaucracy and accelerates project delivery; promotes innovation to make our surface transportation system and programs work better; and maintains a strong commitment to highway, rail, and hazmat safety.
This bill also includes robust reforms of Amtrak, which the House already passed overwhelmingly this year. It cuts waste, holds Amtrak accountable, and increases transparency. It enhances opportunities for competition on routes and increases private sector participation in station development and right-of-way leveraging. It gives States more power and control over their Amtrak routes.
This legislation has wide support from throughout the stakeholder community.
The FAST Act invests in America, continues the essential Federal role in transportation, and helps keep our country economically competitive.
I strongly urge all my colleagues to support this conference report.