Conference Report on H.R. 22, Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015by Representative Steny H. Hoyer
Posted on 2015-12-03
HOYER. I want to congratulate both Mr. Shuster and Mr. DeFazio
for their work on this bill. I want to thank the Senate, as well, for
their work and their leadership.
This is a good week, in many respects. We passed yesterday, on an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote, a bill to make sure that our education system works better. Today, we will pass, by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote, a bill to give more stability and investment to our infrastructure in America. Those are good things.
I lament the fact that, although the previous speaker talked about a sound, long-term fiscal path for infrastructure investment, my own view is we don't do that. We do better than what is but not what we ought to do.
My own view is that we need to dedicate the user fee we call the gasoline tax at a level which has not been raised since 1993 to a level that will in fact put us on a path to fiscal stability and certainty for our infrastructure package.
But this is a good package, and I want to thank my friend Bill Shuster for his leadership. Very frankly, that was critical to getting us to this point, not only on his side on the aisle but on our side of the aisle as well. And I want to thank Mr. DeFazio.
As has been said, this is not a perfect reauthorization. We ought to stop saying that because nothing we pass is perfect. What we hope for is the good, and this is good. It is a compromise. All these efforts are critical to creating the kind of environment that encourage private-sector development and job growth.
At the same time, I am very pleased that a wide majority of Members, nearly every Democrat and most Republicans, worked together to ensure that this conference report includes a multiyear reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, supported by a majority of Republicans and all but one Democrat.
It is unfortunate that Congress, through inaction by the Congress, allowed the Ex-Im Bank to shut down in July. Now, it didn't actually shut down, but it had no authority to guarantee loans, which cost us jobs.
We are changing that policy in this bill. Today, we are coming together to reopen it so that it can help American businesses and workers compete on a level playing field in overseas markets.
During the time the Bank was shut down, businesses began shifting jobs overseas and others refrained from investing here because of the uncertainty over whether it would reopen. Today, that certainty will be restored.
To that extent, the Export-Import Bank is in the same position that Governors and mayors and county executives all over this country will be put in by this bill, giving them some degree of certainty that there will be a cash flow for infrastructure projects, bridges, roads, and other transportation items.
I want to thank again Ranking Member Maxine Waters for her work on the Export-Import Bank and Denny Heck and Gwen Moore for their work that led to this provision in the transportation bill.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentleman has expired.