By Brandon Moseley
Friday, the House of Representatives passed a Conference Report on H.R. 4348, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). Among other provisions, the agreement reauthorizes federal highway and surface transportation programs through Sept. 30, 2014.
Rep. Roby (R) from Montgomery said, "Although I wish it extended for a longer period of time, I am pleased to support passage of the highway reauthorization bill today. Our nation's highway safety and transportation infrastructure programs have operated on a short-term and uncertain basis since 2009. This multi-year authorization of our highway programs will provide somewhat greater certainty for the future, which is key to efficiently planning for our nation's transportation needs. The legislation is fully paid for and falls within the tighter budget limits established by Congress last year."
Congressman Spencer Bachus (R) from Vestavia said, ""The leading country in the world cannot have a third-world infrastructure. This bill contains important reforms to federal transportation programs and will remove the uncertainty delaying work on badly needed infrastructure improvements. The construction will create jobs and provide an economic boost in Alabama and across our nation." Rep. Bachus said that the bill also keep the funding for the Northern Beltway in Jefferson County in place.
Congresswoman Roby said, "Importantly, the bill also includes the RESTORE Act, a significant measure that will impact Gulf Coast states. This plan ensures that 80 percent of the penalties paid by BP and other parties responsible for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon incident in the Gulf of Mexico actually go to the coastal states affected by the spill. I applaud the members of our delegation, specifically Sen. Shelby and Rep. Bonner, for their hard work on this issue."
Congressman Jo Bonner (R) from Mobile and an original cosponsor of the RESTORE Act said, "Under the RESTORE Act, 80 percent of the future Clean Water Act fines paid by BP and others in connection with Deepwater Horizon will be steered back to those areas where the greatest harm was done -- the Gulf Coast. " "The passage of the RESTORE Act is a victory for coastal Alabama and the Gulf region which have been given a once in a lifetime opportunity to set a new course for economic prosperity and growth."
Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D) from Selma said that she was, "Delighted we could pass a bipartisan surface transportation reauthorization bill that creates jobs & improves our nation's infrastructure."
"This is a banner day for the Gulf Coast as the RESTORE Act is soon to become law and the coastal communities affected by the Deepwater Horizon spill are poised to receive long-awaited economic and environmental restoration funds," Congressman Bonner observed after the final House vote of 373 to 52.
The Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012 with RESTORE Act included is now headed to the Senate for final passage. Congressman Bonner worked closely with House negotiators to ensure that its provisions were retained in the transportation conference report that passed the House on Friday. Over two years after the accident attorneys for BP, the Justice Department, and other entities involved in the accident are still negotiating on the amount of the fines which will be levied against BP.