Statement of Senator Craig Thomas
Hearing on Reauthorization of ISTEA
Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure
Environment and Public Works Committee
February 26, 1997

Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this hearing today. Two weeks ago the subcommittee examined our country's transportation infrastructure funding requirements and the national economic benefits that result from a good transportation system. I look forward to the discussion at this hearing regarding whether the current ISTEA program structure is meeting these needs and how the Clinton Administration's proposal addresses these issues.

In my view, the current ISTEA law was a helpful first step toward shaping transportation policy to take this country into the 21st century. It maintained a national commitment to transportation, but made some necessary changes to surface transportation policies. However, it failed to address important issues that will make our transportation program more flexible and efficient in order to respond to changing transportation needs.

I look forward to listening to the Secretary today regarding the administration's proposal to address these concerns. I must say that I am not enthusiastic about what I have heard so far, but I will reserve judgment until I examine the final proposal and have heard from the Secretary.

Some of the issues I am concerned about include: a substantially stronger investment in our transportation infrastructure, a strengthened Federal Lands Highways Program, reducing regulations and streamlining program structure. Any reauthorization proposal I ultimately support must address these critical issues.

Again, Mr. Chairman, I am pleased you are holding this hearing so the subcommittee can explore these important national issues.