Statement of Sen. John Chafee
ISTEA Reauthorization
Las Vegas, NV
March 28, 1997

I want to say that my name is John Chafee, and I am chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee. I'm a Senator from Rhode Island, and it's just a delight for me to accept Senator Reid's invitation to come to Nevada and to hold a hearing in connection with the so-called ISTEA legislation.

Senator Reid is an extremely valuable member of our Environment and Public Works Committee, not only on the transportation side which we're dealing with today, but also on the environmental side of the work of our committee, where he has been deeply involved in reauthorization of the Endangered Species Act.

I am delighted to see my old friend Richard Bryan, Senator Bryan, here. He and I have worked very, very closely over the years in connection with attempts to achieve a balanced budget for our Nation.

So I want to say that Nevada certainly has two outstanding Senators, and it's a pleasure for me to be here at their invitation.

We are here because the principal transportation legislation, the so-called ISTEA legislation -- the ISTEA stands for "Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act" -- and I would stress that this legislation is a transportation bill. It's not just a highway bill, and our objective in the Congress of the United States is to move people and goods from various points in the United States to other points in the most safe, the most swift, and the least costly manner.

It's a national bill; the needs of New England, for example, are quite different from the needs of Florida and quite different from the needs of Nevada or the West. Of course, we always have to remember that there are limits to the Federal Treasury, although I will say that it is my sincere belief that there will be more money spent on transportation needs under the so-called ISTEA legislation over the next six or seven years, depending on how long we reauthorize this bill for, than there had been over the prior years.

These hearings are extremely valuable to me and to all members of the committee, particularly hearing from an area such as this that is experiencing such explosive growth. So we look forward to hearing the testimony of all of the witnesses.