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Public Statements

Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011 -- Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. LANDRIEU. Mr. President, will the Senator yield for a question?

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Ms. LANDRIEU. Did the Senator have an opportunity today--because I had a group from Louisiana in my office on the same subject, and I appreciate the Senator's leadership. The group was the American Engineering Society that was in Washington today. I don't know if the Senator had an opportunity to meet with such a group, but have other groups come by the Senator's office to express, as this group did, their utter frustration with Congress's inability to get such a basic piece of legislation through? Did they tell the Senator the same thing they told me, which is: Senator, when engineers are not working in America, no one is working. We are the ones who are designing the projects to be built. If we are not designing them, they are not going to be built. If we don't get this Transportation bill passed for a longer period of time, we will not be going back to work.

Is that the Senator's understanding when he meets with groups in his office?

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Ms. LANDRIEU. As the Senator from Rhode Island said, he had 9,000 jobs at risk in Rhode Island. We have 26,700 jobs at risk in Louisiana. This is a very significant deal and challenge for all our States.

We don't have the trouble of the winter and the summer but, unfortunately, Louisiana does have one of the largest percentages of bridges that are deficient in the Nation. We also, because we have to build on such soft and unsettling lands, need to have repair money readily available so people can evacuate in times of hurricanes and natural disasters. We have been working--and the Senator may be familiar with the area because he has friends and relatives in our State--on the I 49 south and I 49 north but particularly I 49 south that connects New Orleans to Lafayette in a loop around south Louisiana, which is America's energy coast that is so important for not only saving those wetlands and that great industry of fisheries but also supporting oil and gas production. That highway is yet to be built in a nation that depends on the resources we send to the Senator's State and to other parts of the Nation.

So I feel the same as the Senator from Rhode Island. I can't, for the life of me, figure out why the House will not move with more quick action to pass a longer term bill. Maybe if they can get just anything out of the House, we could get to conference and start negotiating some things that might be better than a 3-month short-term authorization which I hear nothing but complaints about from everyone. I hear complaints from the left, the environmental movement, to the right, the business community. They say: Senator, we can't live with these short-term authorizations. We need 2 years. We need 3 years. We need 5 years. We need something we can build on, count on, budget for, and depend on; otherwise, it is too expensive. It starts and stops projects. We have to lay off a crew and hire them the next day or we can't place our orders in an efficient fashion. The Senator from Rhode Island knows we just raise the cost of all the projects. So why would the House claim to want to be so fiscally conservative but act in such a way that is the opposite, that is making all these projects more expensive?

I think the Senator from Rhode Island is absolutely correct. I will join him on the floor, and I hope our colleagues will come to this floor every night and say it is time to pass this Transportation bill. It is time to help Colorado, New Mexico, Louisiana, and Rhode Island to get people back to work and to fix this crumbling infrastructure.

Nine is enough. The cat has nine lives. This cat has run out of opportunities. This is the ninth short-term authorization. We have to move to a more long-term, sustainable infrastructure plan for America. This is truly an embarrassment, I have to say to my friend.

I wish to thank the Senator from Rhode Island for his leadership, and I will join him in subsequent evenings on the floor to raise this issue and explain to the American public not the inside baseball or the inside politics but to explain what is the most important thing about this, which is we need the jobs and we need them now.

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