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Ms. RICHARDSON. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the conference report on H.R. 4348, the Surface Transportation Extension Act, which provides funding for the Federal-aid highway program through fiscal year 2014 at current funding levels.
Among other things, the conference report makes key investments in our Nation's infrastructure critical to goods movement, which is specifically very important to me in my district, and the additional $500 million that is there for projects of national and regional significance.
The conference report also calls for a national freight strategic plan, and it encourages States to develop State freight plans to incentivize those States to invest in freight projects, policies, and to make sure that we can make progress in that area that has long avoided us.
In recent days, some Members have come down and expressed a desire for the Federal Government to adopt a national freight policy. As a member of the Transportation Committee representing the 37th Congressional District, I represent a very transportation-intensive district, and that's why last March I introduced a bill, H.R. 1122, the Freight Focus Act. That particular legislation was supported very much across the aisle and included support of the American Association of Port Authorities, the American Trucking Association, Operating Engineers, and many more.
My Freight Focus Act was to establish an office of freight planning within the office of the new assistant secretary, and many of those ideas have been incorporated.
As we look forward at this bill, it certainly is not what we had hoped for. We had hoped for something more like a 5-year reauthorization. That would be helpful, but at this point, given our limitations, the key thing I would like to see us focus on is to ensure that there is a strong freight plan, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to make sure that's implemented.
Further, my legislation created a goods movement trust fund. That is something that is not addressed in this legislation but should be considered as we go forward.
As you can see, there are sound freight policies. I have been a leader of that in working with Chairman Mica
and others, and I look forward to us bringing forward not only this bill, but many more to come which will put Americans back to work.
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