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Public Statements

Highway Technical Corrections Act of 2007

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


HIGHWAY TECHNICAL CORRECTIONS ACT OF 2007 -- (Senate - April 16, 2008)

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. DeMINT. Mr. President, I have a motion to recommit at the desk.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report.

The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

Motion to recommit H.R. 1195 to the Committee on Environment and Public Works of the Senate with instructions to report the bill back to the Senate with an amendment striking all new earmarks and spending increases for existing earmarks.

Mr. DeMINT. Mr. President, I thank the chairwoman and ranking member for setting an example for this body in how a bill should be presented to the Senate--with full disclosure, all documentation. It allows us to have an open and honest debate about any differences. There is no question about what is contained therein and what is not. In this case, we disagree on parts of this, but I don't want to begin without first saying I believe the chairwoman and ranking member have set an example for the rest of the committees.

My motion to recommit simply addresses what I believe are serious problems in developing a technical corrections bill that actually changes the legislation from one earmark to another or pluses up earmarks, takes money from an earmark that might be not needed anymore, the project is not wanted, that money is moved somewhere else. While it certainly is correct that the total cost of the bill is about the same, we do need to remember that by next year, we are projecting over a $3 billion shortfall in the trust fund. So instead of adding to earmarks and creating new ones, it makes sense to try to save some of that money so we can fund important infrastructure projects around the country.

The motion to recommit sends this bill back to committee with an amendment that says it should be presented back to the Senate where all of the new earmarks are excluded and any additions to funding for existing earmarks is returned to the current level. What that leaves us with is a technical corrections bill, which is what this bill should be.

The administration has noted with strong concerns that the majority of the technical corrections bill is devoted to earmarks. It modifies hundreds of earmarks from the legislation that passed in 2005. It effectively creates new earmarks, including a stand-alone section that would provide mandatory funding for a magnetically levitating rail system. The presence of excessive earmarks in the 2005 bill created significant inefficiency in the allocation of resources to fund transportation infrastructure.

I have heard regularly from the Department of Transportation of the difficulty in implementing a national transportation system with thousands and thousands of earmarks for special projects that don't necessarily match State priorities.

I encourage my colleagues to take a look at the motion to recommit. It does not kill the bill. It simply refocuses on a technical correction perspective rather than adding to earmarks or creating new ones.

I thank the chairwoman for the opportunity to offer this and thank both her and the ranking member for setting an example of how a bill should be brought to the floor.

I yield the floor.

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Mr. DeMINT. I appreciate the chairman giving me the time to speak on the bill. I am offering a motion to recommit, which will be up for a vote in just a few minutes, and it is a motion to recommit the technical corrections bill back to the EPW Committee.

The purpose of this is clear: Colleagues, we have to stop increasing spending at every point, never cutting anything and never looking for savings. On this Transportation bill, there have been a number of projects, hundreds of millions of dollars worth, that were not needed or wanted. And we need to be reminded that the highway trust fund by next year is going to be over $3 billion in the red. With this Transportation bill, we had an opportunity to save. Yet, instead of doing that, I am afraid this technical corrections bill goes well beyond technical corrections and takes the money that would have been saved from unwanted or unneeded projects and uses it to add new earmarks to the Transportation bill that aren't in the original legislation and adds spending to existing earmarks.

My motion would recommit the technical corrections bill to the committee and instruct them to take out any new earmarks and any increases in spending for existing earmarks. What that will do is just leave the base bill, which would be, at that point, technical corrections. That is what this bill is intended to be. So I encourage all my colleagues to show some fiscal restraint and to restore this bill to a technical corrections bill.

I thank the Chair, and I yield back the remainder of my time.


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