(Remarks as prepared for delivery)
Colleagues – as we meet today to mark up S. 1813, MAP-21, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, 70,000 of our nation’s bridges are structurally deficient and over 50 percent of our roads are not up to standard.
We also meet today as stubbornly high unemployment prevails in our nation with more than one million construction workers out of work and thousands of businesses struggling.
I couldn’t be more proud today to be Chairman of this Committee. The bill before us is completely bipartisan, and therefore nobody will think it is perfect, but it is a very strong commitment to our transportation system and to the health of our businesses, workers, and communities who depend on it.
No nation can be an economic leader if it can’t move people and goods; no nation can thrive if its people are trapped in traffic, losing 4.8 billion hours from work and paying the price for polluted air.
This bill is a reform bill – it consolidates 90 programs into 30. While it continues the current level of funding plus inflation which protects 1.8 million jobs, according to the Transportation Department, it also will create up to one million more jobs through leveraging in the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program.
I am so grateful to Senator Inhofe who has been a tough but fair partner in writing this bill. I have seen his staff and my staff working together at the most difficult moments when we thought we would fail. What kept us going was the responsibility we all felt to fix our aging infrastructure and get the economy moving.
I also want to thank Senator Baucus and Senator Vitter and their staffs, and all Members of this Committee and their staffs, who helped us every step of the way.
Finally, I want to give heartfelt thanks to the respected organizations who stood by us and encouraged us to complete our work in a bipartisan way.
In the last few months, I spoke with those organizations on conference calls sometimes twice a week.
When I read their names, you will see that America is behind this bill, regardless of ideology and differences on other issues.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
National Association of City Transportation Officials
Coalition for America's Gateways and Trade Corridors
American Society of Civil Engineers
U.S. Conference of Mayors
American Road and Transportation Builders Association
Associated General Contractors
American Trucking Associations
American Moving & Storage Association
American Council of Engineering Companies
National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association
Natural Resources Defense Council
International Union of Operating Engineers
American Concrete Pavement Association
American Public Transportation Association
National Ready Mixed Concrete Association
National Auto Dealers
National Asphalt Pavement Association
Laborers’ International Union of North America
Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association
American Iron and Steel Institute
National Association of Development Organizations
National Association of Truck Stop Operators
National Association of Regional Councils
Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association
Associated Equipment Distributors
Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute
Association of Equipment Manufacturers
Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance
American Highway Users Alliance
Intelligent Transportation Society of America
American Bus Association
Transportation Construction Coalition
Southern California Association of Governments
National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association
Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations
Portland Cement Association
National Association of Counties. . .
I ask unanimous consent to enter the letters I received into the record, and I will read one sentence from one letter.
The Association of Equipment Manufacturers writes: “… [we] believe there is no single piece of legislation that this Congress can consider that could do more to quickly create jobs and generate economic activity.”
I hope we will act quickly today to get MAP-21 out of the Committee with a strong vote.
As attention shifts to the Finance Committee, I hope all Members will do everything they can to support Senator Baucus and his Committee, who are already working hard to ensure full funding for this two-year effort.
Now I turn to my Ranking Member, Senator Inhofe.