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Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. WATERS. Mr. Chair, I thank my colleagues Betty McCollum, Barbara Lee, Emanuel Cleaver, Karen Bass, Laura Richardson, Bobby Rush, and Doris Matsui all for cosponsoring this amendment. Our amendment will provide $500 million for the TIGER program, which creates jobs through investments in transportation infrastructure.

The economy is struggling to recover from the recession. The unemployment rate has remained above 8 percent nationally for 40 straight months and is even higher in minority communities and in many areas of the country. Meanwhile, the American Society of Civil Engineers' ``2009 Report Card for America's Infrastructure'' estimated that there is a $549.5 billion shortfall in investments in roads and bridges and an additional $190.1 billion shortfall in investments in transit.

TIGER, formally known as Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, is a nationwide competitive grant program that creates jobs by funding investments in transportation infrastructure by States, local governments, and transit agencies. TIGER funds projects that will have a significant impact on our Nation's highway and transit infrastructure.

TIGER could finance a wide variety of innovative highway, bridge, and transit projects in urban and rural communities all across this country, provided there is sufficient funding. One such project is the Crenshaw/LAX transit corridor in Los Angeles County, a light-rail project that will run through my district. TIGER grants could be used to finance stations along this corridor in the communities of Leimert Park and Westchester, thereby ensuring that these communities have access to light rail.

According to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood:

These are innovative 21st-century projects that will change the U.S. transportation landscape by strengthening the economy and creating jobs, reducing gridlock and providing safe, affordable, and environmentally sustainable transportation choices.

TIGER received an appropriation of $500 million in fiscal year 2012, and the President requested $500 million for the program in funding year 2013. Unfortunately, THUD does not include any funding for TIGER. Our amendment would create jobs by funding TIGER at the requested level without cutting funding for other programs.

Last week, I introduced H.R. 5976, the TIGER Grants for Job Creation Act, which would provide a supplemental emergency appropriation of $1 billion over the next 2 years for the TIGER program; and 44 of my colleagues have already cosponsored this bill.

So I would ask my colleagues to take a look at what is happening in our economy. I think we can all agree this economy needs stimulating. And certainly I'm not talking about stimulating just for stimulating's sake. I'm talking about stimulating for job creation and for the repair of the infrastructure of this country.

We have too many bridges that have been rated unsafe. We saw what happened in Minnesota just a couple of years ago when the bridge fell; and I want to tell you, when the bridges start to fall and the infrastructure simply disintegrates, we're all going to sit around and scratch our heads and say how sorry we are. We're going to go to our constituents and tell them, We will never let it happen again. We have the opportunity to get in the forefront of providing this stimulus to our economy and creating jobs.

Our constituents want to work. They want jobs. So I would urge my colleagues to support the TIGER amendment, invest in our crumbling infrastructure, and create good jobs in communities across the United States.

I would yield the balance of my time to the gentlelady from Ohio.

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Ms. WATERS. In the limited time that we have to speak on these important issues, I have tried to point out the high unemployment in this country and how we can put Americans to work repairing crumbling roads and building transit facilities across our great country. I don't see any need to have to expand on this anymore. I think the point is perfectly clear that we need to fund this TIGER grant.

With the economy still struggling to recover from the recession and millions of Americans looking for work, we should not be arguing about offsets. TIGER has always been funded through the appropriations process. TIGER was first created----

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Ms. WATERS. A point of order has been raised because there is no offset. And I agree there is no offset. But I make the point that we have such a critical need for jobs and investment in our infrastructure and this economy that we should not stop this from going forward simply because of the offset. We can afford to fund investment in this country.

That's my opposition to the point of order.

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