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Public Statements

Congressional Budget for the U.S. Government for Fiscal Year 2004

Location: Washington, DC

PAGE S4226
March 21, 2003



    Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I call up amendment No. 311. I send a modification to the desk and ask unanimous consent for its consideration.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection to modifying the amendment?

    Without objection, it is so ordered.

    The legislative clerk read as follows:

    The Senator from Massachusetts [Mr. KENNEDY], for himself and Mr. Dodd, Mr. Daschle, Mr. Feingold, Mr. Bingaman, Mrs. Murray, Mr. Reed, Ms. Cantwell, and Ms. Collins, proposes an amendment numbered 311, as modified.

    Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that reading of the amendment be dispensed with.


Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I have offered this amendment on behalf of myself, Senators DODD, DASCHLE,
FEINGOLD, BINGAMAN, MURRAY, REED, CANTWELL, and COLLINS. This amendment increases the maximum Pell grant by $500 at a total cost of $1.8 billion. It pays for those changes by reducing the nonreconciliation tax cut by $1.8 billion. If we do not accept this amendment, there will be 110,000 young people who are attending colleges who will lose their Pell grants. With the acceptance of this amendment, there will be more than 200,000 new Pell grant recipients, and it will help immeasurably the 4.9 million Pell grant recipients who come from families who average $15,000 in income.

    Among the education community and students, there is broad-based support for increasing the maximum Pell grant. The following groups have stated their support:

    American Council on Education.

    National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.

    American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

    American Association of Community Colleges.

    United Negro College Fund.

    Coalition of Higher Education Organizations.

    Unites States Public Interest Research Group.

    United States Students' Association.

    The National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges.

    National Association of Community College Trustees.

    Student Aid Alliance—an umbrella group of over 60 higher education organizations which includes the groups I just mentioned, as well as: American Association of Colleges of Nursing, American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, American Association of College Registrars and Admissions Officers, American Association for Higher Education, American Association of University Professors, American College Personnel Association, American College Testing, American Dental Education Association, American Indian Higher Education Consortium, American Jewish Congress, American Psychological Association, American Society for Engineering Education, American Student Association of Community Colleges, APPA: The Association of Higher Education Facilities Officers, Association of Academic Health Centers, Association of Advanced Rabbinical and Talmudic Schools, Association of American Law Schools, Association of American Medical Colleges, Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, Career College Association, Citizen's Scholarship Foundation of America, Coalition of Higher Education Assistance Organizations, College and University Personnel Association for Human Resources, College Board, College Parents of America, Council for Advancement and Support of Education, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, Council on Government Relations, Council of Graduate Schools, Council for Higher Education Accreditation, Council of Independent Colleges, Council for Opportunity in Education, Educational Testing Service, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, Lutheran Educational Conference of North America, NAFSA: Association of International Educators, National Association for College Admission Counseling, National Association of College and University Business Officers, National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, National Association of Graduate and Professional Students, National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs, National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, National College Access Network, National Collegiate Athletic Association, National Council of University Research Administrators, National Education Association, NAWE: Advancing Women in Higher Education, University Continuing Education Association, and the Women's College Coalition.

    Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that some of the letters from these organizations in support of this amendment and in support of increasing the maximum Pell grant be printed in the RECORD.


    Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I commend my colleagues for their leadership on this bipartisan amendment to increase the level of Federal investment in transportation by over 40 percent in the next 6 years.

    This amendment will enable the Environment and Public Works Committee and the Banking Committee to write their Transportation Equity Act for the 21st century, TEA-21, reauthorization proposals with adequate funding, and I urge my colleagues to support it.

    Maintaining an integrated, efficient, and safe transportation system is one of the most important things we can do to get this faltering economy moving again. It is essential for maintaining the strength of our cities, and for promoting the growth of commerce and trade.

    Of all the economic growth proposals that we will consider this year, few will produce a greater bang for the buck than increased Federal investment in the Nation's transit and highway system. According to the Department of Transportation, every $1 billion in surface transportation investment creates 47,500 jobs. With an economy losing 300,000 jobs each month, we cannot afford to ignore the job-creating power of transportation investments and the other benefits that they bring.

    According to a report by the American Public Transportation Association, Americans took 9.5 billion trips on mass transit in 2001—the highest number in over 40 years, and a figure 22 percent increase since 1996. Of those trips, 54 percent were work related. I cannot imagine what would happen in cities like Washington, Chicago, New York, and Boston if these commuters rushing to and from their jobs were to lose public transportation as a viable option.

    Perhaps such a scenario is too grim to consider, but we do have some idea just what those commuters would confront if they got off the trains and buses and back into their cars. In 2000, the average highway traveler spent 62 hours mired in rush hour traffic—a 38-percent increase over 1994. In fact, it is estimated that traffic congestion now costs Americans $67 billion each year—the cost of 3.67 billion hours in lost productivity and 5.7 billion gallons of wasted gasoline—wasted gasoline.

    Unless we continue to build on the impressive investments made under ISTEA and TEA-21, I expect those congestion costs will rapidly multiply. How much they will increase is not known, but the Federal Transit Administration estimates that public transportation now saves the Nation $19.4 billion in congestion costs each year.

    Unfortunately, this budget resolution does not provide room for building upon those two landmark transportation bills, and assumes a relatively flat level of funding for the next several years. These figures fall far short of what is needed simply to keep pace with the demands or exerted on our National Transportation System.

    According to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, just to maintain the current conditions of our roads and bridges the Nation will need to invest approximately $92 billion each year for the next 6 years, and $19 billion for our transit systems. To actually improve these systems, the requirements are $125 billion for highways and $44 billion for transit respectively. Yet this budget provides only $32 billion for highways and $7.2 billion for transit this year.

    By the end of the next 6-year reauthorization cycle, over 65 percent of the Nation's public transportation bus fleet and 54 percent of the country's subway cars, commuter rail cars, and light rail cars will be passed their useful lives, according to FTA.

    If we don't replace the oldest vehicles in the fleet now, and repair those that can remain in revenue service for the foreseeable future, we will only be kicking our problems down the road. Ignoring these needs will only increase their expense, add additional financial burdens to State and local governments, and undermine the safety, security, and efficiency of our current transportation system.

    It is also imperative that we boost funding for transportation investment now because of the new, post-September 11 security costs that States are facing to protect their bridges, tunnels, and subway stations.

    A report by the Transportation Research Board, suggests that of the Nation's 600,000 bridges and tunnels, over 500 have been identified as critical links based on their size, traffic capacity, and strategic importance. If ever one of these bridges or tunnels should be compromised, the effect on commerce and trade in whole States and regions would be profound.

    That same study, which was conducted with the input of the FTA and Federal Highway Administration, suggests that the cost of protecting these highway structures is approximately $6.8 billion over the next 6 years, with an additional $578 million required for ongoing security operations.

    On the transit side, the security upgrades are expected to cost about $6.2 billion over 6 years, with an additional $500 million required for operating expenses.

    Who is going to pay for these security requirements? The existing budget, which calls for essentially flat funding, does not anticipate a strong Federal role. At the same time, the States are in the midst of the worst fiscal crisis in nearly 50 years, and cannot afford these additional responsibilities.

    Ultimately, the States will not be able to avoid this burden for the simple reason that they must protect their citizens. But with no additional revenues to pay for these costs, they will be forced to raid their long-term transportation budgets to pay for these new security responsibilities.

    They are the ones who will have to finance additional State police details, construct physical barriers around the bases of bridges, install ventilation systems in tunnels, and create coordinated traffic monitoring and management computer systems. They will have no choice but to rob fund their immediate security needs at the expense of their long-term transportation improvement needs. And the cost of this may well be the long-term deterioration of their roads, bridges, tunnels, and public transportation services.

    One final point I would like to make is that the terrorists of 9/11 closed our airports, and very nearly crippled the aviation industry permanently. However, because we had made critical investments in all modes of transportation during the past decade, intercity trains, the interstate system, and public transportation were able to fill the gap during those initial days following the tragedy. America did not stop moving.

    We hope and pray that there will never be another major terrorist attack on our country, but cannot pretend that our bridges, tunnels, and train stations are not inviting targets.

    Its essential, therefore, to provide the resources in this budget resolution to maintain a strong multimodal National Transportation System. With this amendment, which provides $255 billion for highways and $56.5 for transit over 6 years, we are taking a large step in the right direction.

    I look forward to working with my colleagues to get a substantial reauthorization bill passed this year, as well as fully funding Amtrak and providing for increased aviation funding. We must meet all of these challenges, and meet them now.

    Today's bipartisan highways and transit funding amendment is a critical step in that process. I urge all my colleagues to support it.

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