Ms. RICHARDSON. Mr. Speaker, today I rise in strong opposition to the Motion to Instruct Conferees on H.R. 4348 offered by the gentleman from Georgia, Mr. Broun. The draconian cuts directed by this motion would cripple the Nation's infrastructure and leave hundreds of thousands of people unemployed.
The language of the gentleman's motion is confusing at best. The exact amount suggested to be cut differs due to interpretation of the word ``funding.'' By limiting the Highway Trust Fund's expenditures in FY 2013 to $37.5 billion, the gentleman's motion would essentially bankrupt the Fund because $37.5 billion is less than the amount needed to reimburse State and public transit agencies for obligations incurred in prior fiscal years.
The Federal Government already owes $38.8 billion for projects that were implemented in the previous fiscal year, or are currently under construction. If we do not authorize the funds necessary to pay these debts, the government will be in default.
Spending cuts of this magnitude would cut more than 1.6 million jobs in a field with more than 2.2 million people already out of work. At the beginning of the spring and summer construction season the unemployment rate in the industry was at 14.2%, and in May alone jobs fell by 28,000. It would be foolish to vote for a motion that will have the effect of putting more Americans out of work. That would be the result if the Broun Motion were adopted.
The motion by the gentleman from Georgia ignores the long-term underinvestment in our nation's surface transportation. Investments in transportation support economic growth, increase productivity and enhance America's competitiveness in the global economy.
A strong national infrastructure is what will bring this country back from the recession we are currently fighting through. The Highway Transit Fund is essential for not only providing a safe transportation network, but creating millions of jobs for hardworking Americans.
Mr. Speaker, I understand that my colleagues and I are working during a time of economic constraints, and I understand that we must make spending cuts across the board in order to control the debt we have accumulated.
However, this motion is an irresponsible move, and if implemented would have disastrous consequences. The Highway Trust Fund would no longer have the ability to carry out highway, highway safety and public transit projects or activities. This would have long lasting negative effects on our nation's infrastructure and economy.
Mr. Speaker, this motion is bordering on absurd. I cannot believe that a member of congress means to drive our nation into default, and cripple our infrastructure in the process. I stand before you today to ask my colleagues, regardless of their political ideology, to ignore the motion put before you. This is what is best for our nation, and our economy.