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Mr. CARNAHAN. I rise today in strong opposition to yet another lame, shortsighted extension of our surface transportation system.
I thank Nick Rahall and Peter DeFazio for their staunch support of a real transportation-jobs bill.
This kick-the-can-down-the-road extension fails--it fails--to make progress in rebuilding America just at the time when our construction season is starting off this year. Our States and our local governments need certainty to invest, to plan, to build America's infrastructure; and this ninth--yes, ninth--short-term extension only extends the uncertainty this Congress has repeatedly created.
In a bipartisan fashion, by a vote of 74 22--rare in the Senate these days--they passed a responsible 2-year, 2 million jobs bill that is a better path for the American people and the economy. This includes an estimated 36,500 jobs in my home State of Missouri. The construction sector and especially our building trades have been particularly hard-hit by this recession, with 1.9 million jobs lost at the depth of the recession. Currently, there are 1.4 million unemployed construction workers. Let's put them back to work.
I sit on the Transportation Committee where, 6 weeks ago, the Republican majority passed out a completely partisan transportation bill for the first time in history. Their bill would kill over a half a million jobs and cut investments in 45 States and in the District of Columbia, and it was dead on arrival in this House. So it is no surprise that here, 6 weeks later, we have not seen any action on the floor, because there is no support for their job-killing proposal. Now we're delaying again with yet another extension instead of taking up a true compromise passed by our colleagues in the Senate.
I was proud to be an original cosponsor when the Senate bill was introduced in the House as H.R. 14, and it's time the House take up that bipartisan bill. Let's pass it. Let's send it to the President.
Infrastructure is a national and urgent priority, and this body needs to start treating it that way. Infrastructure is one of the few areas where virtually everyone except the isolated, out-of-touch Republican majority agrees on what we need to do.
From the Chamber of Commerce to the AFL CIO to everyone's transportation leaders back home, let's pass this bipartisan bill. Let's send it to the President's desk before the current transportation programs expire. It will bring the certainty that State and local governments need, that our construction industry, that our building trades are yearning for, are hungry for. They are hungry to go back to work.
I call on my colleagues to reject yet another short-term extension and pass H.R. 14, a 2-year, 2 million jobs bill to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and put Americans back to work.
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