Conference Report on H.R. 22, Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015by Representative Peter A. DeFazio
Posted on 2015-12-03
DeFAZIO. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 4 minutes.
I want to thank the chairman and the chairman of the subcommittee for their tremendous cooperation and hard work.
I certainly want to thank the staff, who spent the whole Thanksgiving break pulling this together and negotiating with the Senate, and I want to thank our colleagues in the Senate.
We have something that is very rare in Washington, D.C., these days here on the floor of the House: a truly bipartisan approach to very real problems confronting our Nation.
I have been to the floor many dozens of times to talk about our country falling apart, and I won't reiterate all those statistics again today. They are in the Record.
But this is now 10 years and 3 months since Congress last passed a long-term bill. This 5-year bill will give States and local jurisdictions, cities, and counties the capability of dealing with bigger problems that confront our system of transportation.
The series of short-term fixes we have had over the last 5 years and 3 [[Page H8989]] months, or the MAP-21 bill, did not give them the long-term certainty they needed.
There is predictability in this bill. They know how much money they will be receiving, and the levels are higher than current expenditures.
Sure, I think we should invest more, but the bill also contains a provision I championed that says, should a future Congress allocate more funds to Transportation and Infrastructure, that money will flow through the policies and the formulas in this bill with no further action required and no tampering by this or future Congress; i.e., it would be expedited and it would go right into the investments we need to put more people back to work.
This will be the biggest jobs bill passed by this Congress. There is no way we can do more for the American economy than making these long- term investments, putting hundreds of thousands of people to work rebuilding our critical infrastructure. It also doesn't just go to construction, design, engineering, and small business, as do highway contracts. It also has a major investment in transit.
We increase the Buy America percent for transit vehicles to 70 percent. So that will create more American jobs. There are many other critical things.
We create for the first time--amazingly, for the first time, given the importance of our country--a major Federal freight program, an intermodal Federal freight program, that will help us be more competitive in the world economy and make major investments in more efficiently moving goods into our country and out of our country in accessing ports.
It invests in workers with reforms of the workforce retraining program. It promotes local control. We are increasing the share that flows through to local jurisdictions. The chairman already addressed that. It invests in all modes. It preserves the existing split between transit and highways and includes alternate modes.
It includes a new safety grant program to prevent bicycle and pedestrian deaths, which would go to local or State jurisdictions that put forward comprehensive plans that deal with that growing problem.
It provides grants to States that come up with innovative future ways to fund transportation for them to experiment, laboratories around the country experimenting with vehicle miles traveled or other programs that could pave the way for future bills in terms of spending and investing in our infrastructure.
It improves hazmat safety very significantly in this bill. It also invests in rail--Amtrak--and will help local communities who are dealing with passenger commuter rail implement positive train control.
This is a true bipartisan product. I recommend a ``yes'' vote.