Congresswoman Brown made the following statement:
"Although I had much higher hopes for this transportation reauthorization bill and long for the days when we all worked together on the committee, this is a good day for the traveling public and the American economy. This Transportation bill will strengthen our infrastructure, provide quality jobs, and serve as a tool to put America back on a path toward long-term economic growth.
The Transportation bill also includes student loan provisions to prevent the doubling of student loan interest rates. Without the student loan provisions, on Sunday, July 1, the interest rate on federally subsidized Stafford Loans will double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. This rate hike would have had devastating consequences on more than 7 million students (just over 450,000 in Florida) who currently hold Stafford loans, as well as students of color would have been hit especially hard. This agreement will give certainty to millions of students, which will also pave the way for jobs and economic growth.
Although I would have preferred a long term transportation bill with much more funding for infrastructure, and am disappointed we could not include a Rail title or give our local transit agencies the flexibility they asked for during these difficult economic times, this bill will give states, local governments and other transportation stakeholders some stability to plan and build critical transportation projects.
This bill provides steady funding for both highways and transit programs, maintains the 80-20 split between highways and Transit, speeds up the permitting process for projects, includes important safety measures that will save lives, and maintains OSHA oversight of hazardous materials. Additionally, the controversial non germane riders addressing the Keystone XL pipeline and Coal Ash were removed.
I am also extremely pleased that the legislation includes the RESTORE Act, which will help Gulf States like my home state of Florida recover damages and plan for and prevent future oil spills. Florida's economy is largely based on tourism and would suffer tremendously if an oil spill reached our beaches.
Even though this is not a perfect bill, it will start moving our transportation system in the right direction. House Democrats pressed hard for a bill that will protect jobs and create many, many more, particularly in the hard-hit construction industry, and one that implements higher safety standards to protect those who travel on our roads and highways. I am pleased we were able to adopt a bill that achieves these goals, and will be looking forward to starting to work on real long term solutions to our nation's transportation needs in the near future."