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Mr. SHUSTER. I wasn't going to speak on the rule, but I heard my colleague from Oregon stand up and criticize the bill, criticize the process, and I needed to set the record straight.
This bill is the first bill that has come out of the committee on a partisan-line vote, but it's not because of Republicans. It's because Democrats refused to participate in the process.
When they were in the majority, Chairman Oberstar brought a bill to the committee and we unanimously supported it. There was a lot of stuff in there we didn't like, but we wanted to do it on a bipartisan basis, try to correct some of the problems. But we were unable to even move that bill to the floor because the majority, the Democrat majority, wouldn't even put that bill on the floor.
So it's not that Republicans didn't reach out to our colleagues across the aisle. We did. Chairman Mica and many members of the committee traveled the United States, had bipartisan hearings, had a bicameral hearing in California with Senator Boxer. So we reached out and reached out and reached out.
And the Democrats typically want to work together on the T&I Committee. I don't know; maybe their leadership told them they weren't allowed to work with us on this. But this bill is the biggest reform bill that's happened in the transportation industry, in transportation in this country since its inception of the highway trust fund in the 1950s.
We are consolidating programs that overlap and today are outmoded, so we've consolidated, eliminated some. We're compressing the timelines. Most Americans don't realize that it takes, on average, 13 to 15 years to build a highway in this country. We're compressing that to 7 to 8 years. We're going to have more roads built in this country because we are taking the reforms that are necessary.
This has gone on for far too long, and I'm really disappointed that my Democratic colleagues, all they want to do is raise taxes. They want to increase the regulation instead of making government work better, more efficiently, and get those dollars out there quicker that our communities need.
So I believe this is a significantly improved transportation bill than what we've seen at least 2 years ago, and it's something that I support wholeheartedly and would encourage my Democratic colleagues to take a close look and support it also.
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