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Patty M.
Democrat WA

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  • Nomination of Nancy L. Moritz to Be United States Circuit Judge for the Tenth Circuit

    by Senator Patty Murray

    Posted on 2014-05-01

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    MURRAY. I ask unanimous consent that the time until 1:45 p.m. be equally divided between the two leaders or their designees.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

    Highway Trust Fund Mrs. MURRAY. Madam President, the Highway Trust Fund is a vital resource for States to tackle much-needed transportation projects. But right now that trust fund is running on fumes. States from Vermont to California and many in between are rethinking their plans for construction because of funding uncertainty in the Highway Trust Fund. One example is New Mexico. Their State officials are starting to ramp up construction plans for Interstate 25 in Albuquerque. That project has been a high priority for city officials for a number of years. Once it is completed, it is going to reduce traffic and improve safety. That is vital for that area. But right now State officials in New Mexico have said they are concerned about Federal funding for that project and it now might be in jeopardy.

    That is not an isolated case. The trust fund supports transportation projects across our entire country. It eases congestion for our commuters and for businesses that need to move their goods efficiently and quickly. It funds safety initiatives and construction that improves our roads and bridges. It sparks job creation for American workers.

    But the Department of Transportation now says that trust fund will not be able to keep up with its payments to States as soon as this summer. This crisis is right around the corner. Many States are now planning for worst-case scenarios. In fact, the State of Missouri has stopped planning for [[Page S2582]] new projects. In Colorado, a State official has said: Without these funds, major projects probably will not be completed or ever get underway.

    Arkansas has begun planning several projects to replace old bridges and widen highways and repair roads, but now, their transportation officials have put 10 projects on hold because of this looming crisis.

    Construction is at its height during our summer months. So if the Highway Trust Fund hits a crisis in the next few months, we could potentially see a construction shutdown, meaning workers are going to be left without paychecks.

    That could add up to 10,000 jobs in Florida, according to the President of the Florida Transportation Builders Association. Across the country, failing to shore up our Highway Trust Fund could cost more than 180,000 jobs in fiscal year 2015. That is according to an analysis from the Center for American Progress.

    In Kentucky, Governor Steve Beshear summed it up by telling reporters: ``We can't afford for the Highway Trust Fund to go insolvent.'' States and workers are counting on us to solve this. I am hopeful that we can replenish the Highway Trust Fund in a bipartisan way. In fact, House Republican Dave Camp, who chairs the Ways and Means Committee, has proposed using corporate revenue to replenish the Highway Trust Fund.

    President Obama's Grow America Act also calls for corporate revenue to address this crisis and make important investments in our infrastructure. That approach makes a lot of sense. Closing wasteful loopholes so we can create jobs here at home would be good for our workers, good for our economy, and it would make our broken tax system fairer in the process. I am here today to say I am hoping that Republicans will come to the table willing to close just a few corporate loopholes so we can avoid an unnecessary crisis in our Highway Trust Fund, so that we can give our States more certainty to plan and we can help spark job growth in the summer.

    But if Republicans are not willing to work with us, they are going to have to explain why egregious corporate tax loopholes are more important than workers in our construction industry and more important than drivers and businesses that rely every day on safe roads and bridges.

    I am here to say and to warn that construction projects are at risk across our country. Another example happens to be in New Hampshire, where construction crews have been working on a major project to widen Interstate 93. That project was designed to ease congestion and improve safety. Last month the State transportation commissioner said the project could be stalled and thrown off schedule if Congress does not resolve the Highway Trust Fund crisis. He said, ``Any hiccup in federal funding could have a negative impact on the ending.'' For many States this looming crisis is already a reality. We have to act now. So let's show our States that together we will continue to invest in projects that help drivers and help businesses move their goods, and let's show the American people that Congress can work together to ensure vital transportation construction projects will move forward this summer. Let's shore up that Highway Trust Fund and avoid this unnecessary and totally preventable crisis.

    I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.

    The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.

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