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Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

TRANSPORTATION EQUITY ACT: A LEGACY FOR USERS -- (Senate - May 11, 2005)

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Mr. PRYOR. Mr. President, I rise to offer my support for the motion to waive the budget point of order and also to support the efforts of the Senator from Oklahoma and urge my colleagues to also support those efforts. This legislation is 2 years overdue. I am very pleased we are finally making some headway on getting this done. Forcing our States to operate under the uncertainty caused by short-term extensions is no way to govern. We are now in the sixth extension, and it is my hope that we are able to complete our work in the Senate and complete the conference before the current extension expires at the end of the month.

I also thank Senator Inhofe, Senator Bond, Senator Jeffords, and Senator Baucus for their very hard work on this bill and all the time they have spent and their efforts in working in such a bipartisan way. I also thank Senator Shelby and Senator Sarbanes on the hours they have put in on the transit portion, and I thank Senators LOTT and INOUYE, as chairman and cochair of the Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine for their work on the safety portions of this bill.

Economic development is a very important part of any infrastructure development--we talked about that a little bit this morning already--but not at the expense of the safety of families. This bill enhances the safety of our roadways.

As a member of the Commerce Committee, I was very happy to have the opportunity to play a role in developing the safety titles. It is good legislation that will increase the safety of our highways for all Americans, and it is bipartisan legislation, developed with the input of safety groups, industry, the administration, as well as State and local officials.

Every great nation in the history of the world has flourished because of improvements to its infrastructure. If you look at the great periods of development and invention in the world, almost all of them have coincided with advances in transportation options, whether it is safely moving people, expanding trade, or increasing contact between cultures. My constituents remind me all the time about the importance of roads and relieving congestion and creating economic growth--virtually every time I go to Arkansas. Last week when I was there, people were asking me, when in the world are you going to get the highway bill done?

Our constituents are very smart. As I travel the State I hear the same four things over and over, and I believe they are right. They tell me the four things we must accomplish in this highway bill are, No. 1, we must produce a highway bill that addresses critical infrastructure needs that are not currently being met; No. 2, we must produce a highway bill to spur economic development and the creation of jobs.

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No. 3, we must produce a highway bill to increase the safety of our transportation system for American families and, No. 4, we must produce a highway bill that anticipates future needs.

I could go on and on about how important it is for job creation, which we talked about a few moments ago; about how much more congested our highways are today as opposed to 10 years ago, and how congested they will be in 20 years from now.

I offer my support and encourage my colleagues to support the efforts of Senator Inhofe and others as we go through this very important legislation.

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