Matt Dempsey Matt_Dempsey@epw.senate.gov (202) 224-9797
Katie Brown Katie_Brown@epw.senate.gov (202) 224-2160
VIDEO: Inhofe Welcomes Congressional Action on Highway Bill
Washington, D.C. - Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, today in a YouTube address welcomed congressional action on the highway bill and urged the passage of highway legislation as soon as possible.
Full Text of YouTube Address
It's not often that I get to share good news from Washington about job creation, but today I'm pleased to tell you about Congressional action that I believe will lead to us passing a major jobs bill soon.
This week, both the House and the Senate are focused on moving legislation that will improve our roads and highways while creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs. This effort gained momentum last November when Senator Boxer and I were able to team up to unanimously move a bipartisan bill through the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Remember, I've been ranked as one of the most conservative members of the U.S. Senate and Senator Boxer is one of the most liberal - but we're together on roads, highways and bridges because our infrastructure across America is crumbling.
It is important to note, the approach in Congress is the complete opposite of President Obama's infrastructure agenda, which has simply been an attempt to use infrastructure as a partisan issue and throw a wrench into Congressional efforts. Remember back to his $787 billion failed stimulus bill, the one he claimed was an infrastructure bill? Despite all of his talk, only 3% went for infrastructure, 3% went for defense, and the rest went to liberal social engineering. The good news today is we have rejected President Obama's disingenuous approach.
Now as we work to get our bill to the Senate floor, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is marking up their highway bill this week. From what I understand, the House highway bill will be different from the Senate bill, and that is just how it should be. Congress works best when each chamber moves their own bill.
One of the significant areas of departure is the funding for the bill. In the Senate, the bill has moved to the Finance Committee, where we are working towards a bipartisan solution on how to pay for it. Senator Baucus and Senator Hatch deserve credit for their efforts and I am optimistic that we can get a bill to the Senate floor very soon.
The House is using increased energy production to fund a portion of their bill. As one of the biggest supporters of domestic energy development, I understand what Speaker Boehner and members of the House are trying to do. As a recent Congressional Research Service report shows us, America's combined recoverable oil, natural gas, and coal endowment is the largest on Earth, and developing these resources is critical to our economy and national security.
There is no denying that increased energy production could fund a portion of the bill. It won't fund everything, but just like the Senate's bipartisan approach, many revenue options are necessary. It is unfair to call this approach a poison pill just because many Democrats don't want to tap into this nation's vast energy resources. Everybody needs to keep an open mind as the only way to get a highway bill done is for both the House and Senate to pass a bill. This is a critical first step and as such should not be condemned.
Our nation's infrastructure is crumbling and hundreds of thousands of construction workers are unemployed. The bottom line is that we need to pass a highway bill as soon as possible so that we can get Americans back to work building our roads and bridges. We passed the last highway bill in 2005, so we are long overdue for a new highway bill. I believe we can put aside attempts by President Obama, to turn spending on highways into a partisan, political issue. Rather, I look forward to a conference where the House and Senate can come together in a bipartisan fashion to put forward a great bill.