Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-3) released the following updated statement regarding the bipartisan agreement reached by House and Senate negotiators on the long-awaited transportation reauthorization bill, which will help create jobs, relieve congestion, and promote economic growth by fixing our roads and mass transit:
"This agreement is an example of the bipartisanship we need to see in Washington in order to move our country forward and help promote job creation," said Rep. Lipinski, the most senior member of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee from northeastern Illinois. "On a day when partisan bickering is clearly on display, the parties have finally worked together on something for the good of the American people -- an all-too-rare occurrence. Certainly I would not claim this bill is perfect; compromises were made, some of which can be questioned. But after almost three years without a long-term bill -- during which time I repeatedly urged action -- we now have legislation that on balance will help create jobs, relieve congestion, and promote economic growth. This bill is important for northeastern Illinois. As I did publicly last Friday with several of my colleagues from across the aisle, I urge my colleagues to join together to pass this bill before funding runs out on Saturday.
"The fact that this bill is a year longer than expected is welcome, as it will help provide the certainty needed to undertake some larger projects. I am glad that it authorizes the Projects of National and Regional Significance Program and provides substantial funding for mass transit, both of which I fought hard for. The Projects of National and Regional Significance program was the source of the first $100 million that I obtained for the CREATE rail modernization project in the last transportation reauthorization bill and could provide funding for other large and important projects in northeastern Illinois, such as the Illiana Expressway. I helped introduce an amendment in committee in an effort to include this program in the House bill. Earlier this year, I joined with several of my Republican colleagues to help defeat a misguided Republican proposal that would have put $450 million for the CTA, Metra, and Pace at risk by ending guaranteed funding for mass transit. Thankfully, this bill does not include that proposal, and instead will provide needed investments in mass transit. I am also glad that the conferees were able to reach an agreement on including streamlining provisions that will make it possible for transportation projects to break ground more quickly. As a supporter of expanding public-private partnerships in order to increase investment in infrastructure, I support the bill's increased funding for the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act. Other positive measures that I have worked for and supported include providing funding for mass transit projects that expand capacity and were not previously eligible for funding, which could be used to rebuild transit lines in Chicagoland; and providing grant funding for rail modernization and repair, which would also benefit local transit agencies.
"Even now it is not too early to look ahead to the next transportation bill. Congress should seek to avoid a repeat of the nearly three years that we have gone without a long-term transportation reauthorization bill. Next Congress, when I could be the most senior Illinois member on the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, we will need to get to work on developing a robust, bipartisan, and truly long-term transportation reauthorization, hopefully lasting five years."
The bill does not include the Keystone pipeline; Rep. Lipinski has supported building Keystone.