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Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. OLVER. I thank the ranking member for yielding time.

I rise in support of this conference report. As ranking member on the Transportation and Housing Subcommittee, I first would like to thank Chairman Tom Latham for working openly with me throughout the process, and I congratulate him on bringing his first conference report to the floor. Also, I would like to thank staff--for the majority, the subcommittee clerk, Dena Baron, and her excellent staff; and for the minority, Kate Hallahan, Joe Carlile, and Blair Anderson--all for their diligence and hard work in making this a better bill.

Mr. Speaker, this bill contains elements with which I disagree. In particular, I wish CDBG funding was closer to last year's level, and I am disappointed that the bill does not provide funding for the High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail Program. Both of these programs are in high demand and would contribute significant value to our communities if funded properly. However, this bill is a reasonable compromise that has improved significantly the Transportation-HUD portion that was marked up in subcommittee.

The agreement ensures that funding for our transportation infrastructure programs is kept stable, allowing the Federal Aviation Administration to continue modernization of our air traffic control system, providing the Federal Highway Administration with funds needed to maintain our highway network, and providing the Federal Transit Administration with sufficient funding to continue investments to expand our regional transit systems.

I am particularly pleased that the bill provides $1.4 billion for Amtrak and removes destructive language that would have halted service along 26 routes in 19 States. Annual ridership on those routes has increased, and a congressionally authorized process is already under way to reduce the operating costs of these services.

In addition, the bill provides $1.66 billion for the Highway Administration's Emergency Relief Program in order to eliminate the of repairs needed as a result of hurricanes, floods, and other natural disasters, as well as $400 million for emergency CDBG funds. I believe we have a responsibility to provide assistance to States that have endured unanticipated natural disasters without conditioning that assistance on cuts to other programs.

Lastly, I am pleased that this bill reinstates HUD's Housing Counseling Program by providing $45 million. With foreclosure rates remaining high, the counseling services provided by this program continue to be vital for families who are struggling in the current economy.

Mr. Speaker, this bill is a good product of a bipartisan process, and I urge my colleagues to support it.

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