PROVIDING FOR FURTHER CONSIDERATION OF H.R. 3550, TRANSPORTATION EQUITY ACT: A LEGACY FOR USERS -- (House of Representatives - April 01, 2004)
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Mr. DREIER. Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Atlanta, Georgia (Mr. Linder), the distinguished chairman of the Committee on Rules' Subcommittee on Technology.
Mr. LINDER. Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend from California, the chairman of the Committee on Rules, for yielding me time.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of House Resolution 593 and urge the House to approve this rule so we can move on to consideration of the underlying legislation, H.R. 3550, the highway funding bill.
As the gentleman from California (Chairman Dreier) described, this is a fair, structured rule that makes in order a total of 23 amendments, 14 Republican and 8 Democrat, and one very important bipartisan amendment. Thus, the Committee on Rules has crafted a rule that will allow the House to have a lively debate and work its will on a number of key issues that these amendments raise. H. Res. 593 should receive bipartisan support for doing so.
With respect to H.R. 3550, this legislation reauthorizes our Nation's highway and transit programs for the next 6 years and covers a variety of important transportation needs. While I am pleased that the House is moving forward with its consideration of the highway bill, there is one outstanding issue that concerns me, the issue of minimum guaranteed funding.
Georgia has, unfortunately, been a highway funding donor State for far too long. The two previous highway bills in 1991 and 1998 made good progress toward improving donor States' rates of return, but more still needs to be done in order to treat Georgia and other donor States more fairly.
In the 1998 Transportation Equity Act For the 21st Century, TEA 21, I worked hard, along with other key members of the Georgia delegation, to achieve the present rate of return of 90.5 percent. With these efforts, Georgia was able to raise its average rate of return from 76 percent to approximately 86 percent of their share of contributions over the 6-year life of the bill.
Unfortunately, H.R. 3550 in its current form is not a step forward toward the current goal of 95 percent. It does not even maintain the current level of minimum guaranteed funding provided under TEA 21. Although H.R. 3550 maintains the TEA 21 rate of return of 90.5 percent, the bill would mandate that only 84 percent is available for minimum guaranteed funding, unlike TEA 21, which sets aside approximately 93 percent of the Highway Trust Fund for minimum guaranteed needs.
As such, the issue of minimum guaranteed funding under H.R. 3550 must be addressed more satisfactorily. In this respect, I am very pleased that the rule we crafted in the Committee on Rules will provide Members the opportunity to consider amendments offered by the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Isakson) and the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Burns) and others which is designed to address this very concern.
Mr. Speaker, this is a good rule. It provides all Members the opportunity to debate a wide variety of transportation related issues facing our Nation. I urge my colleagues to support the rule, so we may proceed to debate the underlying legislation.