Conference Report on H.R. 22, Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015by Representative Lou Barletta
Posted on 2015-12-03
BARLETTA. Mr. Speaker, today is a historic day, as we are voting
for a five year surface transportation reauthorization bill that
provides critical investment to our roads and bridges. This will help
keep America competitive and provide certainty to states and
communities planning infrastructure projects.
However, it is irresponsible that neither the House nor the Senate has worked on serious reforms. We have not adjusted the user fee for our infrastructure in 20 years or considered new, sustainable revenue streams. Instead, we have spent valuable time searching for short term gimmicks. Make no mistake; I am disappointed with the offsets in this bill. We should not be robbing the banks or Customs to pay for our roads and bridges.
This is fiscally irresponsible. At some point, we have to say enough is enough. That time has come. We need a long-term, robustly funded bill. We missed an opportunity with this legislation, but we in Congress must work together to continue finding common ground on innovative ideas to ensure the Highway Trust Fund has a sustainable revenue source. We cannot allow our children and grandchildren to pay for the investments we should be making now.
As a Conferee, I was happy to work with Chairman Shuster, Ranking Member DeFazio, and my Senate Colleagues on important roadway safety issues, such as preventing heavier trucks from driving on our local roads.
This bill fully funds the Highway Safety Improvement Program, which invests in infrastructure like guardrails, rumble strips, and retroreflective signs. While you will never read the headline, ``Rumble strip saves family of four,'' this program saves lives every day and for that reason alone, I urge my colleagues to support this bill today.
Additionally, I was pleased to see common-sense provisions that I championed included in the final agreement. For example, I introduced the Local Farm Vehicle Flexibility Act to make sure farm vehicles are not regulated like long haul trucks. Today, this highway bill includes language to prevent farmers from getting tickets for driving from field to field without covering their load.
It makes crude oil being transported by freight rail safer and gives first responders more time to react in the unlikely event of a derailment by including top fitting protections for the pressure relief valves. It also includes language that I strongly support to reduce paperwork burdens on concrete truck drivers.
I worked with my fellow conferees to encourage the use of U.S. iron and steel in rolling stock frames and car shells. This provision will increase use of U.S. iron and steel in the fabrication of rolling stock frame and car shell components and subcomponents.
Finally, many of the policy ideas that I introduced in the Safer Trucks and Buses Act were incorporated in this final version. We must work to make sure we fix the important safety score program so that good decisions can be made on scores that actually represent truck and bus safety records.
Investing in infrastructure is good for the economy and good for America. I am happy to vote for this long term bill and look forward to working with my colleagues on policy ideas that could be included in a comprehensive tax reform bill to ensure the Highway Trust Fund has a sustainable funding source.