Senate Environment and Public Works Business Meeting
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Madame Chairman, unfortunately I believe today’s markup is more about political statements than trying to legislate.Having a markup this late in the session means that very few, in any, of these bills have a chance of being signed into law this year.
I am particularly disturbed that seven of the bills on the agenda were never raised to the minority until this past Friday, the deadline for noticing this markup.We had no idea until Friday that the Chairman was even considering moving these bills.I think this action alone demonstrates that the majority either doesn’t want to legislate or isn’t interested in working in a bipartisan fashion.
Regarding the Water Infrastructure, I can support the underlying bill with my amendment to lower the costs across the board, but I will not be able to support the bill if the Davis Bacon amendment is added.The Davis Bacon amendment is a poison pill which will kill this important legislation for another year.
As I stated last week, I do not support the Bridge Safety Bill.It is the wrong bill at the wrong time.This issue should be addressed during the Highway Reauthorization which we should be drafting now, but we aren’t.In addition, the approach of this bill is to add more red tape to a program in which the states are already swamped with red tape.That is not the way to fix the problem.
Finally, on EDA, I remain concerned that the clock has already run out.I asked that the Committee turn to this issue in April, I introduced my own bill in July and requested it be marked up then.This program expires at the end of September and we had no meetings or discussions on the legislation until last week.Although I had a promising discussion with Chairman Oberstar last week and he pledged to try and work with me to get it enacted, I now understand they have strong doubts that it can be done in the next ten days and are considering a one-year extension.While a one-year extension is better than nothing, I regret that the Committee, despite my urging, did not act on this earlier.
A few of the bills also address global warming. I would like to point out that according to the new Farmers’ Almanac released this week and its time-honored, complex calculations that it uses to predict weather, they predict we will be in for a colder than normal winter. In addition, they suggest that based on a study of solar activity and corresponding records on ocean temperatures and climate that we will be in for a cooler, not warmer, climate, for perhaps the next half century.