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American Jobs Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. DeFAZIO. I thank the gentleman.

I would just key in on one of the aspects of the President's proposal, and that would be long-term legislation to invest $450 billion in our crumbling infrastructure.

Now, some people say to me, well, Congressman, I don't work in construction. I say, these aren't just construction jobs. We have the strongest Buy America

requirements in the area of transportation investments. Underline two words: ``investments'' and ``jobs.''

Now, those investments, if made under Buy America in, say, transit vehicles, involve engineering, manufacturing. They involve steel manufacturing. They involve sophisticated fabrication of vehicles, the tires for buses, all of those sorts of things. We could put millions of people back to work and begin to revive the devastated American manufacturing sector and for once keeping the Chinese from stealing our jobs because of the Buy America protections.

But, no, the Republicans don't want to do that. They don't really like the Buy America provisions in the bill, and they don't want to make the investments.

We were here till midnight last night. The gentleman from Georgia proposed that we end all new Federal investment in transportation infrastructure on October 1. There would not have been one penny more. All of the money that he would allow in next year's budget would only be enough to pay for ongoing projects.

When the States finish a project, we reimburse them. We authorize the projects; the States build them; we reimburse them. The money that he would limit us to would only pay for projects already ongoing. That would bring it all to a halt, despite the fact the system is falling apart. We're living off the legacy of Dwight David Eisenhower, a mid-20th century legacy. It's falling apart. It needs to be rebuilt. We also need to build out a 21st century infrastructure to more efficiently move goods and people and compete with our competitors.

Now, I heard a lot of nonsense last night, and 82 Republicans voted for this today, so this is a problem. The Republican Conference is having an internal war among themselves. They have 82 Members who believe the Federal Government--the Federal Government, the people of the United States assembled, the 50 States and territories--should not invest in transportation and infrastructure, that it should be done by the 50 States. It should be devolved. That's crazy. That's crazy. In the 21st century, we're going to have a 50-State transportation policy?

And how are the States going to pay for it? We tried that, until 1956. We had a turnpike built in Kansas that ended at the Oklahoma border, because Oklahoma didn't have the money, until Eisenhower passed the legislation and the Federal Government could invest. They want to go back to those good old days.

And then they prattle on about, well, these are just government jobs, government. They hate government. No, they're not government jobs. The government does not build bridges; the government does not build transit systems; the government does not build highways, gentlemen. They don't build any of those things. We go out and contract through the States for the lowest qualified bidders under Buy America requirements to build these projects with American workers and American products.

So let's stop all this nonsense on the Republican side of the aisle about the government can't create jobs. The investments the government makes can create jobs in the private sector.

We have an infrastructure that's falling apart. The President wants to rebuild it. The Senate even wants to rebuild it on a bipartisan basis. But, no, the Republicans in the House of Representatives have stopped forward progress on this legislation, forgoing potentially millions of jobs. It's a shame. I only hope that the Senate and the President can prevail on this issue.

I thank the gentleman for bringing this to the attention of the House.

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