HEARING ON THE REAUTHORIZATION OF TEA-21
JANUARY 24, 2002
Mr. Chairman, I join in welcoming Secretary Mineta to the committee and look forward to a valuable exchange of ideas over the next two years as we prepare to reauthorize our nation's highway and transit programs.
It was my privilege to be actively involved in the formulation of TEA-21 in 1997 and 1998 in my capacity as the subcommittee chairman. At that time, we saw a great need in this nation to respond to many unmet transportation demands to improve mobility in our rural communities, to relieve congestion in our urban areas and to promote the efficient movement of American goods. We responded with an unprecedented increase of 40 percent in highway funding by enacting landmark budget provisions to free up the revenues in the Highway Trust Fund.
TEA-21's revolutionary financing and formula reforms built upon the program reforms of ISTEA. 1991. As we look to the next bill, how will we again provide the vision and tools to ensure that our surface transportation network -- highways, transit and rail -- will stimulate economic growth?
Our multi-year reauthorization bills have provided a unique opportunity to transform our national transportation system.
Most notably, President Eisenhower responded to the mobility needs with the vision of the Interstate Highway System. In 1991, at the end of the construction of the 40,000-mile Interstate System, President Bush responded with the National Highway System to ensure that an efficient road network reached 95% of all Americans.
Also in ISTEA 1991, Senator Moynihan had a keen vision of a seamless national transportation system that connected roads to transit and railroad stations to airports.
In 1997, President Clinton supported the efforts of this committee under the leadership of Chairman Chafee and our Ranking Member, Senator Baucus, to release funds from the Highway Trust Fund.
The budget reforms of TEA-21 were unprecedented. For the first time we fulfilled President Eisenhower's commitment that taxes American motorists pay at the gas pump will be used to build and upgrade our highways.
As we begin today, in partnership with the Administration, to reauthorize TEA-21, our overriding challenge is transportation gridlock.
Bold, new initiatives are needed and I hope that we all will strive for the standard of excellence set forth by President Eisenhower, President Bush, and Senators Moynihan and Chafee.