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Mr. DUNCAN of Tennessee. I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time, and I thank him for his leadership of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
H.R. 4239 extends the surface transportation programs through May 31, 2012, at funding levels consistent with the fiscal year 2012 transportation appropriations bill passed last November. This extension is clean and does not add any policy provisions. Without this extension, Mr. Speaker, these programs are set to expire this Saturday. This legislation will allow the highway and transit programs to continue to operate as the spring construction season kicks off.
During this 2-month extension, we fully expect the House to pass H.R. 7, the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act of 2012, and conference this bill with the Senate's 18-month reauthorization bill. H.R. 7, as Chairman Mica just noted, is a 5-year reauthorization bill that provides the long-term funding at current levels. It provides the predictability that States and localities need and have requested in order to plan major transportation projects and critical improvements to their transportation systems. Additionally, H.R. 7 eliminates, or would eliminate, wasteful Federal programs and put important decisionmaking power back in the hands of the States. There is no reason to have a bureaucrat in Washington dictating which projects should be funded in my home State of Tennessee or in other States.
Federal aid transportation projects around the Nation are sitting idle because of inefficient and unnecessary project review requirements. H.R. 7 goes the extra mile by streamlining the project review process and by eliminating scores of unnecessary Federal requirements. My constituents in the Second District of Tennessee and those throughout this Nation want a more efficient and smarter process for investing our Federal transportation dollars, and H.R. 7 would accomplish this by doing more with less.
We need to speed up these highway projects. The last two studies by the Federal highway officials have estimated that it takes 13 years--one said 13 years; one said 15 years--from conception to completion. All these other developed nations around the world are doing these projects in a half or a third of the time that we are. We've got to speed things up to become more globally competitive.
When Congress sends H.R. 7 to the President, it will be considered the signature jobs bill that Americans have been waiting for Congress to pass. Just this week, Time magazine has a cover which describes our recovery as ``wimpy.'' Yesterday, the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, Chairman Bernanke, said that the job market continues to remain weak.
This bill, H.R. 7, if we can pass it, will create millions of jobs for hardworking Americans right here in the United States--not in China or India--and will leave a lasting impact with tangible improvements to our transportation infrastructure. By passing the long-term reauthorization bill that the business community and State and local officials across this country want, Americans will be able to see their tax dollars working to rebuild and strengthen our Nation's highways, bridges, and transit systems. In addition, people all over this country want us to stop rebuilding other countries and start doing what we need, rebuilding our own country and putting our own citizens first once again.
I urge my colleagues to pass this brief 2-month extension so that the House can continue its work and then pass H.R. 7, the long-term reauthorization reform bill that this country needs.
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