Statement of Sen. Harry Reid
November 4, 1997

At the beginning of this Congress, Chairman Chafee said that one of the things he likes the most about the Committee on Environment and Public Works is that it is quite possibly the least partisan one in the Senate. I agree with him.

Over the years, this Committee has successfully addressed some of the stickiest, most controversial issues facing our nation: Clean Air, Safe Drinking Water, Superfund. We have also produced one of the most innovative pieces of legislation ever when we wrote ISTEA in 1991.

Our stated goal was to turn over more spending power and authority to the states and localities while maintaining a strong national transportation system. In the last six years we have made great progress and, when we are finally able to pass a bill, feel confident that ISTEA 11 will carry us further in the same direction.

Until we get to that point, I fear that we might be getting ready do something unnecessary and unfair to the states: We might go home without passing a short-term measure that ensures that the state programs remain stable while we are finishing work on the reauthorization.

ISTEA made the states partners with the federal government in building and maintaining a strong transportation system. Leaving them in the lurch now is no way to treat a partner.

I understand that we will have witnesses this morning that will suggest that the AVERAGE state will be able to make do and cobble together a program between now and next March without Congress doing anything other than funding the safety programs