U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) today addressed the opening session of the Maryland Municipal League (MML) and told local leaders that "local governments and municipalities are the end of the line for the services that Americans want and that they should not be held hostage by a the federal government's debate over the budget."
The Senator, a member of the Budget and Finance committees, told the local leaders that Congress has to put its partisan differences aside and get important legislation enacted. He specifically pointed to the failure to pass the transportation reauthorization bill and a long-term budget agreement.
In his remarks to the MML, the Senator stressed the importance of passing the transportation reauthorization bill, which is set to expire June 30 and is currently in a Senate-House conference committee. In Maryland, it is estimated that transportation projects support approximately 28,700 jobs.
"The Senate has already passed a transportation bill that has strong bipartisan support and I know many local leaders are waiting anxiously for a final bill. The House of Representatives needs to move beyond partisan politics because passage of this bill is critically important to many communities. It will create jobs, help stimulate future growth and provide a boost to our overall economy. We need to get this done -- now."
The Senator also talked about the bipartisan amendment that he authored with U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS), which was included in the Senate-passed version of the transportation bill. The amendment gives local governments the ability to make choices on how they spend transportation dollars in their communities.
"Local governments know what their communities need and I want to give them the fiscal power that will enable them to make the right transportation choices for their communities."
Senator Cardin, who is also a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, had good news about last week's Senate passage of the Farm Bill. The 2012 Farm Bill consolidates the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative Program with a few other similar conservation programs into a new Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).
In the Farm Bill, Senator Cardin worked with his colleagues to increase the overall funding for the new regional conservation program, as well as improve the set-aside for "Critical Conservation Areas" like the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, and solidify the Bay as a priority within the RCCP.
"Farmers understand how valuable a healthy Chesapeake Bay is to our region and our nation. It's why I fought to preserve the Chesapeake as a priority conservation region and did not stop until we received assurances that the Chesapeake Bay Watershed will receive ample support under the 2012 Farm Bill's conservation programs," said Senator Cardin.`