Conference Report on H.R. 22, Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015by Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton
Posted on 2015-12-03
NORTON. Mr. Speaker, the reputation of our committee is that we
are the most bipartisan committee in the Congress, and I think we have
shown it with this bill.
I can't thank my partners enough--Mr. Graves you just heard from; Chairman Shuster; Mr. DeFazio, who is the ranking member; both good friends and, of course, the staff--for their countless hours, including missing Thanksgiving. I particularly thank the conference committee Members because this bill needed compromises on both sides if we were going to get it done this year, and that is what we have done.
This bill was improved in conference in many ways. If you are in the States, you will probably say the most important way is that you are getting more funding than anticipated. There was a tradeoff, of course, because it is now a 5-year rather than a 6-year bill, and we needed the longest term bill we could get; but it does mean almost $13 billion more annually in funding for the States, and they were so starved for funds that, I believe, this 5-year tradeoff was most important for us and for them.
The reason I have come to the floor with this chart is not to show you something about my own district, but because this chart is emblematic of what this bill will do for your district and for districts all over the United States. I chose it because one of my major projects is the H Street Bridge. I didn't just choose a bridge; I chose a bridge with intermodality at its vortex. This is the bridge that runs over Union Station. All you have to do is look at it, and you will see the trains; and there is freight beneath this bridge, and major freight is in this bill. You will see Amtrak. Across the H Street bridge itself runs inner-city buses, local buses, and streetcars.
You see how transit is the key to development itself. So, if you don't get the transit done, if you don't get the infrastructure done for our bill, then other infrastructure which depends on it will not occur.
We are trying to expand Union Station here. This bridge has to be done if they are to accomplish this. They are going to expand the Union Station concourse. This bill will allow the improvements in the Northeast corridor, which is so important to so many Members. In a real sense, this bridge and this poster tell the story of this bill.
There were so many of my major priorities in this bill that I would just [[Page H8990]] like to say something about a couple of them.
One is the way we are now trying to get a hold of the highway trust fund which is a trust fund in name only--the $15 million to $20 million--that will allow for the States to experiment with new ideas. States are the only ones that are doing it, which is going to be absolutely necessary before the next long-term bill. We didn't have anything of the kind in MAP-21.
Look what we had to do instead. We took money to pay for this bill, for example, from the Federal Reserve and from the strategic oil reserves, for the first time in history--that is the cutest one-- because oil is worth less than when it was used as an offset. We had to face down this highway trust fund, and that is why my major priority was new trust fund ideas.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentlewoman has expired.