SAFE, ACCOUNTABLE, FLEXIBLE, EFFICIENT TRANSPORTATION EQUITY ACT: A LEGACY FOR USERS -- (Senate - July 29, 2005)
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Mr. OBAMA. Mr. President, I am pleased that the conference report on H.R. 3, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users, protects an important program administered by the Department of Transportation the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program also known as the DBE Program.
The DBE Program ensures that small businesses owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals are able to compete on a level playing field for federally funded highway and transit contracts.
I strongly endorse the DBE Program and am pleased that this program continues to enjoy bipartisan support.
Since the DBE Program was started in 1982, the field of highway contractors has grown more racially diverse. The DBE Program was expanded to include women in 1987, and that improvement to the program has opened the doors for women contractors to join what has traditionally been an all-male field. Despite the increased fairness and greater opportunity for minority and women contractors since the inception of DBE, there continues to be a strong need for the DBE Program.
Unfortunately, studies have shown that when DBE Programs end, many contractors simply revert to their old practices, denying contracts to small companies owned by minorities or the economically disadvantaged. It is clear that the DBE Program is still needed to secure the gains made and encourage even greater opportunity for these small businesses, and I am pleased that the conferees have recognized that continuing need and have retained this program.
Federally funded highway and transit contracts are big business, and it is imperative that we give everyone the big guys and the little guys a fair opportunity to take part. The DBE is vital to increasing participation in our federally funded highway projects.
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