Congressman Russ Carnahan (D-MO), senior Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, today released a statement, following passage of the combined Surface Transportation reauthorization and extension of student loan interest rates. The bill will also take steps to protect American families from the devastating effects of flooding, by reauthorizing flood insurance.
"This is the biggest jobs bill we will likely pass all year in this Congress, said Rep. Carnahan "We have committed to rebuilding America's physical and knowledge infrastructure. While I am happy this legislation has passed, I continue to be frustrated that the House is so partisan that only deadlines and fiscal threats can force us into action."
Rep. Carnahan continued, discussing the surface transportation portion of the legislation, "This legislation will create millions of American jobs and includes more than $900 million a year for projects in Missouri, which will create or preserve an estimated 100,000 jobs in our state. In fact, Missouri gets a bigger piece of the funding pie for transportation projects in Missouri than either of the legislation that originally passed the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee or the Senate. This includes funding that our state and local governments can use to leverage into millions in credit assistance and investment by the private sector.
"We removed harmful provisions that would have eroded historic preservation protections which preserve our national treasures. We included instructions to give preference to veterans and to protect minority- and women-owned businesses when bidding out construction projects. We eliminated language that would have eroded the important functions of our Metropolitan Planning Organization. Finally, we included legislation I authored to fight fraud in shipping, saving American consumers money.
"However, I take issue with measures in the legislation encouraging the privatization of the transit systems that are integral to the lives of so many in our communities. We must continue to protect the rights of those who work hard to move us from one place to another. We also are taking a step backward in protecting our environment. I also had hoped stronger Buy America provisions would have been included, as well as greater funding for Safe Routes to Schools and alternative modes of transportation."
Finally, Rep. Carnahan addressed the student loan interest rate extension, "More than 160,000 Missouri students will be helped by the interest rate extension in this legislation, saving nearly $1,000 per student, helping them afford a quality college education. With this simple measure, we will introduce more than $6 billion into our economy during the life of these loans and protect young Americans, who suffer from a higher unemployment rate than any other group.
"I am happy this legislation has finally passed and I hope that when we return from the July 4th holiday, we will put progress ahead of politics, continue improving the education of our next generation, creating new American jobs to help rebuild our economy, and rebuilding our middle class by passing middle class tax cuts."