While I am disappointed that the Administration could not complete its work in time for this hearing today, I trust that Secretary Slater will be as forthcoming as possible about the details of their proposal. I have some general concerns about the Administration's budget request for our highway program, including DOT's suggestion to fund certain entities such as Amtrak from the Highway Trust Fund. I hope to hear from Secretary Slater as to the rationale for some of these policy decisions.
I think we can all agree that an efficient and well-maintained transportation system is critical to our nation's economy and personal mobility. ISTEA was certainly landmark legislation in a number of ways, particularly in the area of giving states and local communities increased input and flexibility in the transportation planning process. In that regard, I will be interested in hearing from our witnesses how we can make improvements in the area of flexibility and devolution of decision-making authority without compromising our national interests.
With that, Mr. Chairman, I will yield so that we have sufficient time to hear from the Secretary and the other panel of witnesses.