TRANSPORTATION EQUITY ACT: A LEGACY FOR USERS -- (House of Representatives - April 01, 2004)
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the order of the House of Tuesday, March 30, 2004, and rule XVIII, the Chair declares the House in the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union for the consideration of the bill, H.R. 3550.
IN THE COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Accordingly, the House resolved itself into the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union for the consideration of the bill (H.R. 3550) to authorize funds for Federal-aid highways, highway safety programs, and transit programs, and for other purposes, with Mr. Shaw in the chair.
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Ms. BERKLEY. Mr. Chairman, before I begin my remarks, I would like to also add my voice to thanks for the gentleman from Alaska (Chairman Young) and the gentleman from Minnesota (Mr. Oberstar), ranking member. Sometimes I think they represent my community as well as I do, and I appreciate the help; also the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Petri) and the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Lipinski) for their leadership in getting this bill to the floor today.
This bill is one of the most important pieces of legislation that we will vote on in this Congress. While the amount is significantly less than what I would like and what I believe the country needs, I rise in strong support. This bill will alleviate congestion, address air quality needs, and improve the quality of life in all of our communities. My district, the Las Vegas Valley, is the fastest growing community in the country, and we are struggling with the needs for new roads and highways and more transit options. Without this investment in our transportation programs, Las Vegas will be unable to complete the projects needed to keep traffic moving and to keep our commuters safe.
Sitting in traffic takes precious time from families spending time together, and it forces businesses to pass along higher costs for goods and services, and it adds to air pollution problems as drivers sit stuck in traffic wasting gas and money. Without this bill we will also increase the risk to drivers as too many cars crowd our roads causing accidents to rise. Increased funding for pedestrian overpasses, new traffic safety devices, and information systems to alert drivers to dangers ahead are all investments in saving lives.
And finally, Mr. Chairman, this is a jobs bill. In the past 3 years we have seen the highest job loss in this Nation since the Depression. Today we have a chance to do something about it. For every billion dollars invested in highway and transit programs, we stand to create 47,000 jobs, real good-paying jobs. This is 12,500 jobs in my home State of Nevada.
I cannot emphasize the importance of this particular highway bill. I urge all of my colleagues to join me, join with the people of the State of Nevada, and let us vote for this legislation with great enthusiasm.