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Public Statements

Surface Transportation Savings Act of 2010

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. PERRIELLO. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Madam Speaker, I rise today in support of the Surface Transportation Savings Act of 2010 and appreciate the work of Congressman Schauer and the chairman and many others in working for this.

In the long journey towards reducing this Nation's deficit, we also need to look at small steps as well as large ones. As we look at pay-as-you-go legislation and bipartisan budget commissions, we also must find in every place that we can look opportunities to save some money.

One of those places we should be able to start, if nothing else, is looking at areas where the agencies themselves have said we cannot use this money or we do not want this money. We have compiled within Transportation and Infrastructure's jurisdiction over $107 million that is left sitting on the table. But we know too often in this town, money left on the table disappears very quickly.

This bill will lead to real savings. It reduces the contract authority that is currently available for certain highway safety and transit programs by $107 million. In fiscal year 2010, it takes this $107 million off the table so that it cannot be used to increase spending in the future.

There are two ways that this money could be used to increase spending in the future if not rescinded now. First, the future appropriations act could increase the obligations limitations that control spending for these highway safety and transit programs, thereby allowing this $107 million to be spent instead of reducing the deficit.

Second, the future appropriations act could rescind this authority and use it as a rescission to offset increased spending on other programs. In fact, and unfortunately, we have already seen attempts to do this. They become somewhat routine for appropriations bills to rescind contract authority to offset other spending. In fact, H.R. 4899, the FY 2010 emergency supplemental, used about $2.2 billion in rescissions of highway contract authority.

What we see here is a commonsense attempt with ideas from both sides of the aisle to look at opportunities where the agencies have said these are resources we will not spend or cannot spend. To me, this is one step where we should be able to agree at least in such areas that that money and that contracting authority should be taken off the table so that it is not spent and put towards deficit reduction.

I rise today to support this savings act, to appreciate all those and thank all of those who have worked on it. While these savings may seem small relative to the size of a budget deficit, it is a start. As they say, even the longest journey can begin with a single step. I urge my colleagues to consider H.R. 5604 in this light and support this bill.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. PERRIELLO. I appreciate the support of the gentleman from Tennessee and his concern about the deficit. We certainly need to continue to look at the big picture with pay-as-you-go legislation and budget commissions and other ways to get it to balance. In the meantime, there is nothing wrong with taking smaller steps in the right direction, whether that's looking at blocking congressional pay raises or anyplace that we can save. $107 million is nothing to sneeze at, even if it's not large by Washington standards.

Madam Speaker, I yield such time as he may consume to the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Schauer).

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Mr. PERRIELLO. Madam Speaker, again, I want to thank the gentleman from Tennessee and the others who have been a part of this.

If we can't at least agree to take the money that agencies say they don't even want or can't even use and put that to deficit reduction, how on Earth will we ever move forward in the simplest possible terms?

If this $107 million is left on the table, it will be spent on something. If we remove this contracting authority, it will not; and that will save the taxpayers money. That is the important thing. If we can't at least agree on these small steps, how are we going to take the big steps together?

So I appreciate the cooperation on this bill to find $107 million, to take that off the table and to make sure that it does not get spent wastefully.

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