U.S. Representative Nick J. Rahall (D-WV) Friday, joined in passing, by a 373-52 vote, long-awaited legislation to authorize, for 27 months, a reliable stream of Federal funding -- including over $420 million annually to West Virginia -- to put Americans back to work building and repairing the national network of highways and bridges.
"This bill preserves highway investment levels for all States, including West Virginia, enabling them to tackle crumbling roadways and deficient bridges. No State suffers a funding cut," said Rahall, the top Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. "The States and highway contractors will now have the ability to count on a stable source of funding, sustaining and creating jobs, and enhancing the mobility and safety of American motorists."
Rahall has been leading the effort in the House for passage of a long-term bill to provide some certainty to enable the States to plan for and commit to construction projects. The last long-term highway measure expired in 2009 and the Nation has been relying on a series of short-term extensions to pay for road construction. Passage of this bill has been held up for months as Republicans sought to use the vital measure to advance partisan policies, including those that would have undercut the safety of the traveling public and imperiled American jobs.
Rahall acknowledged that the bill included some provisions he opposes, but underscored the importance of the economic boost the bill is expected to provide through construction projects that have been languishing, awaiting passage of the authorizing bill.
"When all is said and done, this conference agreement means jobs for workers in West Virginia and throughout the Nation. And when all is said and done, I have chosen to support jobs," said Rahall.