Northern California Members of Congress today called on the House leadership to immediately pass a long-term transportation jobs bill. In a letter to the House leadership, the members highlighted the Department of Labor's April 2012 Jobs Report which shows that last month alone, close to 17,000 jobs were lost in the transportation sector. Traditionally, the warm spring and summer months are when transportation and construction jobs are at their peak. A transportation jobs bill like the one passed by a bipartisan vote in the Senate would fund long-term transportation and infrastructure projects, and is estimated by the U.S. Department of Transportation to create 177,500 jobs in California alone.
"We need to put politics aside and work across the aisle to put folks back to work," said Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-1). "A bipartisan group of seventy seven U.S. Senators worked together and passed a transportation bill that will create or save more 177,000 California jobs. The American people need the House to do the same. I urge the House Majority pass the bipartisan Senate bill and send it to the President to be signed into law so we can get folks back to work rebuilding our roads, bridges, highways and railways."
"House Republicans continue to stand in the way of new jobs for middle class Americans," Rep. George Miller (CA-7) added. "Instead of supporting a bipartisan transportation bill that will create hundreds of thousands of construction jobs rebuilding roads, bridges and highways, House Republicans leave American companies and workers idling while doling out more tax breaks to the rich and famous."
"We need to focus on creating jobs in California. Investing in our infrastructure will create thousands of good-paying jobs and give businesses the access they need to prosper - jobs that people will be able to support their families on. We need to pass a comprehensive transportation bill and put people back to work. It's long past time to put partisanship aside and put people back to work," said Rep. Jerry McNerney (CA-11).
"If a bipartisan Senate can agree on a transportation/jobs bill why can't the House Republicans sign off on it? There's no excuse for putting America's future on hold. We need to act now," said Rep. Jackie Speier (CA-12).
"With unemployment above 11% in my district of Sacramento, passing a long-term transportation bill is critical to our economic recovery, and that of the nation as a whole. Make no mistake: every day a bill is delayed during these warm months, more construction jobs are lost. House Republicans must join us in standing for American jobs, and agree to a bipartisan solution that provides the kind of certainty that our transportation industry desperately needs to begin the 2012 construction season and make progress for the future. We cannot wait," said Rep. Doris Matsui (CA-5).
"House Republican Leadership continues to avoid its basic responsibility of passing a transportation bill that puts American workers back to work rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure," said Rep. John Garamendi (CA-10). "Construction workers and businesses cannot wait. We should pass the bipartisan Senate bill, so we can Make It In America again."
The House Majority has twice refused to pass long-term transportation legislation, instead passing short-term extensions. The long-term authorization proposed by the House Majority in February contained many politically-driven and unrelated policy riders that prevented the bill from being passed. For example, the bill halted funding for high-speed passenger rail projects; opened the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska for oil drilling; ended competitive grant funding for road improvements, port upgrades, bridge maintenance and light rail; defunded bike and pedestrian projects; and ended funding that is used to build safer routes to schools.
Former Republican Congressman and current Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood called the long-term House bill introduced in February the most partisan and worst transportation bill in decades.
In the past, long-term transportation legislation has traditional received strong bi-partisan support. The last long-term transportation bill passed the House in 2005 by a vote of 412-8. Federal funding for transportation projects will run out on June 30, 2012 if not legislation is passed.
The full text of the letter is below.
May 9, 2012
Hon. John Boehner
United States House of Representatives
H-232, US Capitol
Washington, DC 20515
Hon. Nancy Pelosi
United States House of Representatives
H-204, US Capitol
Washington, DC 20515
Speaker Boehner and Leader Pelosi,
We urge that the House of Representatives immediately consider and pass a long term transportation jobs bill. Passing this legislation is vital during a critical period of our economic recovery.
Last Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that despite the creation of 115,000 jobs during the month of April and the lowering of the unemployment rate to 8.1%, the transportation sector still lost close to 17,000 jobs during that same period. Meanwhile, the House has continued to postpone -- or has given up entirely -- consideration of a transportation bill. Then just a few weeks ago, the House took a series of procedural steps to go to a Conference Committee with the Senate to finally negotiate a long term transportation bill.
While we are encouraged that this Conference Committee began their discussions this week; talk of prolonged negotiations, the creation of bargaining working groups involving all 47 members of the Conference Committee, and the insistence that issues unrelated to transportation like the Keystone XL Pipeline be part of a transportation bill, cause us to fear that a long term transportation bill is not going to be agreed to any time soon let alone before the critical summer construction season.
Our top priority, and the top priority of the American public, is job creation. It is therefore incomprehensible to us that the House leadership has not even brought up a long-term transportation bill up for a vote, when this indecision has unnecessarily put so many Americans out work; 17,000 people last month alone. With Federal funding for transportation projects set to run out on June 30, 2012, we urge that the House either immediately consider the long term transportation bill that was overwhelmingly agreed to in the Senate, or instruct House Conferees to cede to the Senate language in its entirety so that a transportation jobs bill can be signed into law as soon as possible.
Thank you in advance for your immediate consideration of thishttp://mikethompson.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=295001 very time sensitive request.
Congressman Mike Thompson is proud to represent California's 1st Congressional District, which includes the Counties of Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino, Sonoma, Napa, and Yolo. He is a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Rep. Thompson is also a member of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition and sits on the bipartisan, bicameral Congressional Wine Caucus.