Congresswoman Mazie K. Hirono (HI-02) today voted in favor of legislation that invests in repairing and maintaining America's roadways, strengthens the federal flood insurance program, and protects some 7.4 million college students from seeing their college loan interest rates double. H.R. 4348, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, or MAP-21, passed the House by a vote of 373-52.
"This bipartisan bill refocuses on our nation's top priority -- creating jobs. The bill passed today will create or save more than 3 million jobs in the U.S. and thousands here in Hawaii. This bill ends nearly three years of gridlock that has held up needed reforms and renewal of our highway and transit laws. We can now move forward with providing funding certainty to states, communities, and businesses for the next two years. That said, it's far from a perfect bill, but that is the nature of compromise," said Congresswoman Hirono, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
"Despite the bill's shortcomings, you don't have to look far to see that our roads, highways, and transit systems across the country need fixing. We must continue to invest in the upkeep and improvement of our transportation systems so that our families can travel safely and businesses can transport goods efficiently. This bill moves the ball forward on that important goal, which is vital to supporting our economy," said Congresswoman Hirono.
H.R. 4348 also prevents low college student loan interest rates from doubling this weekend. In 2007, Congresswoman Hirono cosponsored the College Cost Reduction and Access Act, which President Bush signed into law. The law helped low-income and middle-class students pay for college by setting interest rates at a fixed 3.4 percent for subsidized Stafford loans. Without H.R. 4348 today, these low interest rates would have jumped to 6.8 percent on Sunday.
"College costs are bank-breaking and heartbreaking. As the first person in my family to attend college, I used work study and student loans to pay for college and law school. I understand Hawaii students' pain today. We can't allow college loan interest rates to rise, especially under these economic conditions. We need to continue to prepare our young adults to compete in a global economy. Today's compromise will save nearly 17,000 Hawaii college students almost $1,000 each over the life of their loan," said Congresswoman Hirono, a member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee.
H.R. 4348 also reauthorizes the federal flood insurance program for the next five years.
"Currently, over $12 billion worth of property in Hawaii is ensured through the National Flood Insurance Program. That's nearly 60,000 policies in our state. Since flood insurance is often required in order to get a home loan in Hawaii and across the country, this five year reauthorization will help provide certainty for our realtors and Hawaii's real estate market. It also includes necessary reforms that ensure the sustainability of the program for the future."