Senator Dan Coats (R-Ind.) today issued the following statement after voting against the two-year, Surface Transportation Reauthorization bill conference report that also includes the flood insurance reform bill and student loan extension act.
"Improving America's infrastructure is a top priority, but packaging together three major bills that violate spending agreements and contain a provision slipped in during the dead of night is a practice whose time has come and gone," said Coats. "We must end this destructive "business-as-usual' approach in Washington."
Coats noted that the conference report violates the spending agreements made by Congress last August when it passed the Budget Control Act.
"I continue to be amazed that Congress is passing bills that we all know will violate the agreements made resulting from the Budget Control Act," added Coats. "It's no wonder the American people have so little faith in Washington, when Congress congratulates itself for passing laws to limit spending and then immediately ignores those restrictions. It's nothing but smoke and mirrors, and it is a disservice to the people we serve."
Coats also objected to the conference report on the Senate floor today highlighting a provision added to the report without approval by the Senate or the House of Representatives. The "Asian Carp" provision would give the Army Corps of Engineers pre-authorization to move ahead on a new project, which could result in closing of the Chicago Area Waterway System locks. Closing the locks would endanger $14 billion per year in economic activity and over 100,000 jobs that rely on the Chicago Area Waterway System.
"I commend work that has been done to improve the transportation provisions in this bill. However, I could not support the final legislation because it not only violates spending agreements, but it also includes language dropped in without any notice, much less any debate, that could devastate Northern Indiana's economy and lead to massive federal spending totaling over $100 billion."
The conference report passed the Senate 74 to 19 with one voting present.