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Public Statements

Motion to Instruct Conferees on H.R. 4348, Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012, Part II

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. LANGEVIN. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Mr. Speaker, another summer building season is well under way without a long-term transportation bill; and we are, quite frankly, down to the wire on the current funding authorization, which expires next Sunday. Yet here we are debating the addition of even more non-transportation-related measures.

Congressman McKinley's motion to instruct on coal ash is another example of delay. The transportation conferees ought to be urgently completing their work on a long-term authorization, not being saddled with extraneous requirements which pose a threat to public health. With thousands of jobs on hold until Congress acts, this delay is unconscionable.

Our State Departments of Transportation gave us early warning that if Congress did not act on a long-term transportation bill by March 31 the summer building season would be compromised. The Senate recognized this concern, and it sent to the House bipartisan legislation known as MAP 21, which is a bill that passed the Senate with the strong bipartisan support of 74 Senators. Then, as we saw the March 31 deadline come and go, House leadership refused to take up the bipartisan Senate bill, knowing full well that carrying an extension through the summer building season would cost jobs. And it has.

Nowhere is our Nation's fragile recovery more apparent than in my home State of Rhode Island, which currently has an unemployment rate of 11 percent. According to RIDOT, millions of dollars in projects have already been delayed, including a $6.4 million project to carry I-95 over Ten Rod Road in Exeter; a $1.5 million project to provide traffic improvements on I-295 ramps along the borders of Cranston and Johnston; a $3.5 million project to resurface State Street to Broad Street and Main Street to route 1A in Westerly, Rhode Island. These projects not only improve the infrastructure upon which our businesses and residents rely, but they mean real jobs, desperately needed jobs, for Rhode Islanders.

MAP 21 will help rebuild America's economy so it is on a stronger, more sustainable foundation. It will provide the financing for critical highway and transit projects and support almost 2 million jobs, 9,000 of them in my home State of Rhode Island.

The 90-day extension, Mr. Speaker, is almost up. It was reluctantly passed back in March with the promise of a long-term measure to follow, a bill which has yet to materialize. We must let the conferees finish their work, and we must let the EPA continue to do its job of protecting the public from the risks of coal ash, which include cancer, neurological disorders, birth defects, and asthma.

I urge my colleagues to vote against this industry-driven motion and to vote for moving forward on the path to rebuilding our roads, our communities, and our economy by bringing the American people a long-term transportation bill.

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