Statement of Senator Bob Smith
Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee
Hearing on the Administration's Proposal for ISTEA Reauthorization
February 26, 1997

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing today on the Administration's proposal for ISTEA reauthorization. I first want to welcome and congratulate Secretary Slater on his confirmation and express my desire to work with him and his department in developing a fair, common sense, forward-looking reauthorization bill that meets both our local and national transportation needs.

While I am disappointed that the Administration could not complete its work in time for this hearing today, I trust that Secretary Slater will be as forthcoming as possible about the details of their proposal. I have some general concerns about the Administration's budget request for our highway program, including DOT's suggestion to fund certain entities such as Amtrak from the Highway Trust Fund. I hope to hear from Secretary Slater as to the rationale for some of these policy decisions.

I think we can all agree that an efficient and well-maintained transportation system is critical to our nation's economy and personal mobility. ISTEA was certainly landmark legislation in a number of ways, particularly in the area of giving states and local communities increased input and flexibility in the transportation planning process. In that regard, I will be interested in hearing from our witnesses how we can make improvements in the area of flexibility and devolution of decision-making authority without compromising our national interests.

With that, Mr. Chairman, I will yield so that we have sufficient time to hear from the Secretary and the other panel of witnesses.