House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John L. Mica (R-FL) and Members of the Committee today unveiled the American Energy & Infrastructure Jobs Act. The initiative is a long overdue infrastructure bill that reforms transportation programs and promotes increased domestic energy production to create American jobs.
"This bill will put Americans back to work rebuilding our roads and bridges and developing new sources of low cost energy," Mica said. "This legislation may be the most important jobs measure to pass Congress this year.
"The American Energy & Infrastructure Jobs Act is the largest transportation reform bill since the creation of the Interstate Highway System in 1956," Mica continued. "This is a five-year bill that reforms our federal transportation programs, cuts the red tape and bureaucracy that delays projects across the country, gives states more flexibility to determine their most critical infrastructure needs, provides states with the long-term stability to undertake major improvements, and encourages private sector participation in helping to finance transportation projects."
"The average federal highway project takes 15 years from concept to completion in the U.S. because of excessive regulations," said Highways and Transit Subcommittee Chairman John J. Duncan, Jr. (R-TN). "This is far more than any other Nation. This bill will streamline the way we approach infrastructure projects by cutting red tape and reducing federal bureaucracy, all while creating millions of jobs for hard working Americans right here in the United States.
"These jobs will also greatly improve highway safety," Duncan said. "Highway fatalities have steadily declined in recent years, and the funding provided in this bill will work to continue improving safety."
Mica also noted that the new legislation contains no earmarks. The previous long-term law authorizing federal surface transportation programs, known as SAFETEA-LU, contained over 6,300 earmarks. That law expired in September 2009. Since then, Congress has passed eight short-term extensions, six of which were approved when Democrats controlled both Congress and the White House. Mica added, "President Obama and the Democrats' policy of passing short-term extensions and the massive stimulus have not helped the economy."
The Committee is scheduled to begin consideration of the transportation reauthorization portion of the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, February 2, 2012. Legislative text will be available at www.transportation.house.gov.
In summary, the transportation reauthorization and reform provisions:
* Authorize approximately $260 billion over five years to fund federal highway, transit and safety programs, consistent with current funding levels
* Provide long-term stability for states to undertake major infrastructure projects
* Contain no earmarks, compared to the previous transportation law which contained over 6,300 earmarks
* Consolidate or eliminate nearly 70 federal programs
* Eliminate mandates that states spend highway funding on non-highway activities
* Allow states to set their own transportation priorities
* Delegate more project approval authority to states
* Condense deadlines for federal agency project approvals
* Accelerate the approval process for projects in an existing right-of-way
* Encourage states to partner with the private sector to finance and build projects
* Streamline the project delivery process and reduces regulatory burdens for rail projects
* Call for the funds collected for the improvement of the nation's harbors to be invested for that purpose
* Ensure the safe, efficient transportation of hazardous materials in a manner that does not impose unnecessary burdens on the flow of commerce