Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) today issued the following statement on the transportation authorization and appropriations bills for fiscal year 2013:
"I am pleased that the House of Representatives today has finally passed a bipartisan job-creating highway authorization bill after months of needless delays. This bill will create or save more than 2 million jobs while authorizing highway and transit programs for more than two years at current levels. It cuts red tape and consolidates 60 different federal programs into four, which reduces government waste.
I also applaud a provision that will prevent the interest rates on federal student loans from doubling. That fact that this was held up to the 11th hour is disgraceful. We must do everything we can to keep college affordable so that all Americans have an opportunity to get a quality job to support themselves and their families.
But no legislation is perfect and I believe we can do better when it comes to investing in America's crumbling roads, bridges and tunnels while creating even more jobs. For every $1 billion of federal funds invested in highway and transit infrastructure, we create or save about 34,800 jobs in some of the hardest-hit industries.
The appropriations bill shortchanges key initiatives to improve mass transit, including high-speed rail. While the bill provides adequate funding to advance major transit projects currently under construction, it effectively shuts downs the planning and development pipeline for new subway, light rail and other rail systems. I believe this is a missed opportunity to ease congestion in the northeast corridor, create jobs and reduce vehicle emissions that harm the environment."