After months of urging Congress and President Obama to pass a long-term highway bill Congressman Aaron Schock (IL-R) is claiming victory. Today, the House voted to approve a transportation infrastructure bill, H.R. 4348, that will fund the nation's roads, rails, bridges, and infrastructure through September 2014. Schock has been a vocal advocate for the benefits of a long-term highway bill, not only for Illinois, but for moving commerce throughout the country, to incentivize employers to locate here and for domestic job creation. During debate of the highway bill today, Schock was selected to preside over the House as the Speaker Pro Tempore.
Schock also secured inclusion of his legislation to improve rural roadway safety in the conference report. Schock's Agricultural Machinery Illumination Safety Act will improve the safety of rural roadways by specifically directing the Secretary of Transportation to promulgate a rule to improve the daytime and nighttime visibility of agriculture equipment that is operated on a public road - a safety issue that has been top concern for the agricultural community in Illinois.
"Today's passage of a long-term highway bill will cut in half from 15 years to 7 years the amount of time it takes to build a new highway, which is exactly the jolt the economy needs to create jobs and build up our infrastructure in Illinois," said Congressman Aaron Schock. "There is no mistaking the fact that because the House refused to accept the flawed Senate bill, and instead negotiated a stronger bipartisan solution that today both chambers will approve a highway bill that is far better for state transportation programs, as well as for economic development and much needed job creation. In previous years, 60 cents out of every transportation dollar has gone toward administration and bureaucratic overhead. This bill eliminates much of the burdensome red tape and regulations to expedite the construction of infrastructure programs and ensures valuable resources go toward actually building roads.
"If we can lower the cost of doing business here in the United States, we can help attract more high paying manufacturing jobs in this country," added Schock. "With the passage of the Panama, Colombia and South Korean free trade agreements, it's now more important than ever to ensure we are investing in our infrastructure to help move U.S. products to new markets. A long-term highway bill is as much about putting people back to work now as it is about investing in our country's infrastructure to entice businesses to expand their operations in the U.S. and sell their products around the world more efficiently."
Highlights of the Bipartisan Highway Bill
The Highway Bill is for a full 2 years and 3 months through September 2014
The Illinois Funding formula was not changed
Illinois will average over $1.38 billion a year in federal highway funding from the Highway Trust Fund with further opportunities to secure additional dollars
Illinois' percentage of the total highway trust fund allotment increases from 3.52% to 3.67%
Shortens the average review time for new transportation projects from 15 years to 7 years. (In part by requiring various environmental reviews to proceed concurrently)
Also includes an extension of the current student loan rates for one year
Includes Schock's rural roadway safely legislation