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Mr. DUNCAN of Tennessee. I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time.
Mr. Speaker, let me just say that Chairman Mica has performed great leadership of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and he has tried in every way possible to work with everybody he possibly could. His task has been made much more difficult by the rule prohibiting earmarks. And as he just mentioned, the other side couldn't bring a bill out of committee and to this floor, a highway bill, in the last Congress when they controlled the House, the Senate, the White House, and still allowed earmarks. So we're in a very difficult situation at this point, and that's why we're here today asking for this 90-day extension.
H.R. 4281 extends the surface transportation programs through June 30 at funding levels consistent with fiscal year 2012. The transportation appropriations bill passed in November. This extension is clean and does not add any policy provisions. Without this extension, the transit and highway safety programs are set to expire this Saturday. This legislation will allow these programs to continue to operate as the spring construction season kicks off.
If Congress fails to pass this extension by Saturday, it will cost the highway trust fund about $1 billion a week in lost revenue and put the brakes on 134,000 highway projects and 5,700 transit projects across the Nation. States that seek to be reimbursed for their Federal aid for highway and transit projects would be unable to receive Federal funds for the work they have completed. The Federal Highway Administration would furlough 3,500 of their employees, and work on environmental permits and project approvals for new construction projects would come to a screeching halt. Over 280,000 construction workers, Mr. Speaker, working on highway and bridge projects today could lose their jobs if Congress cannot pass this extension.
This country simply cannot afford a loss of such a magnitude during our tenuous road to economic recovery. Time magazine has a cover article this week describing our recovery as the wimpy recovery, and it's based primarily on pent-up demand.
We need to pass this extension so that we can work toward completing and finalizing H.R. 7, our long-term authorization reform bill.
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