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Public Statements

Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


TRANSPORTATION EQUITY ACT: A LEGACY FOR USERS -- (House of Representatives - April 02, 2004)

The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. BROWN of South Carolina). Pursuant to House Resolution 593 and rule XVIII, the Chair declares the House in the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union for the further consideration of the bill, H.R. 3550.

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AMENDMENT NO. 23 OFFERED BY MR. ISAKSON

Mr. ISAKSON. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.

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Mr. ISAKSON. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I want to thank the gentleman from Alaska (Mr. Young), the committee chairman, and the ranking member for their cooperation in allowing this amendment to come to the floor today.

My colleagues are getting ready to hear a lot of numbers. They are getting ready to see a lot of charts; but in the end, facts are stubborn things.

The current base bill, as presented, if passing the way it does, will reduce the minimum guarantee in the States from 90.5 percent to a scope of 84 percent. The amendment presented today by me and a bipartisan group ensures that the minimum guarantee will remain at 90.5 percent of 93 percent, as it was allocated on scope under TEA 21. Those are the facts. That is what everybody needs to understand.

Do not let any chart with any separate group of assumptions lead my colleagues astray. They cannot make 90.5 percent of 84 percent more than 90.5 percent of 93 percent.

Secondly, some will say it is a donor/donee issue, and to an extent it is; but if the base bill passes as it is, it exacerbates the donor States. All the donor States are asking in this is to maintain where they were under the last highway reauthorization bill.

I hope my colleagues keep those facts in mind. Facts are stubborn things. This is about equity to our States.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. ISAKSON. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 ½ minutes to the distinguished gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Scott).

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Mr. ISAKSON. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 15 seconds. The difference in the charts are the assumptions. In the chart in question, we met with FHWA this morning. They assume the same basis in allocating the charts. Therefore, the numbers change. Numbers are moving all around but 90.5 percent of 93 percent still beats the basis in TEA LU.

Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 ½ minutes to the distinguished gentleman from Florida (Mr. Keller).

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Mr. ISAKSON. Mr. Chairman, I am very pleased to yield 1 ½ minutes to the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Young), the distinguished chairman of the Committee on Appropriations.

Mr. YOUNG of Florida. Mr. Chairman, it is unfortunate that we have a piece of legislation here that seems to divide our States and our Representatives from those States, but frankly this really is not a fair bill to many of our States.

When we bring appropriations bills to the floor, we do our very best, and I think people on both sides would agree, we do our best to make sure that we play fair with everybody in this Chamber. I have looked at the original bill, I have looked at the proposed amendments, I have looked at the manager's amendment; and all I can see is that taxpayers and the highway users in my State of Florida are not being treated fairly.

I understand that there are some very nice incentives in this bill for Florida and for other States that are supporting the gentleman from Georgia. My vote is not going to be bought off because there are some very nice projects in this bill for Florida. I am still going to vote for the amendment offered by Mr. ISAKSON. If we cannot pass Mr. ISAKSON's amendment, I will vote against the bill because it is not a fair piece of legislation for a large part of this country.

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Mr. ISAKSON. Mr. Chairman, I am pleased to yield 1 ½ minutes to the distinguished gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Burns).

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Mr. ISAKSON. Mr. Chairman, I am pleased to yield 1 ½ minutes to the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. Chocola).

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Mr. ISAKSON. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. Pence).

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Mr. ISAKSON. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 ½ minutes to the distinguished gentleman from Florida (Mr. Shaw).

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Mr. ISAKSON. Mr. Chairman, I yield 2 minutes to the distinguished gentleman from Florida (Mr. Mario Diaz-Balart), a real leader on this amendment.

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Mr. ISAKSON. Mr. Chairman, I yield 30 seconds to the gentleman from Arizona (Mr. Flake).

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Mr. ISAKSON. Mr. Chairman, I yield 30 seconds to the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Putnam).

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Mr. ISAKSON. Mr. Chairman, I am pleased to yield 30 seconds to the distinguished gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Ehlers).

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Mr. ISAKSON. Mr. Chairman, I am pleased to yield 30 seconds to the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Gingrey).

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Mr. ISAKSON. Mr. Chairman, it is a privilege to yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Mica), a distinguished member of the committee and a good friend on this issue.

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Mr. ISAKSON. Mr. Chairman, it is a pleasure to yield 30 seconds to the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Garrett).

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Mr. ISAKSON. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself the balance of my time.

The CHAIRMAN pro tempore (Mr. Nethercutt). The gentleman is recognized for 2 ½ minutes.

Mr. ISAKSON. Mr. Chairman, the gentleman from Alaska (Chairman Young) is a good man with a difficult job, the gentleman from Minnesota (Mr. Oberstar) is a good man with a difficult job, and there are 433 other Members of this House who are good men and women with a difficult job. But fair is fair, and facts are facts.

The money that flows in that we are talking about spending today is a user fee based on the use of roads in each of the States. It is only right that States get back at least a semi-equitable portion of the use of their roads that generated the revenue that this Congress has dedicated.

There are no losers in the base bill or in this bill in aggregate dollars, because there is more money being spent, but there are big losers in terms of States in this country who already are donor States and are being reduced to a lower percentage.

I do not have the luxury of promising designated projects, and I do not know where ultimately they will or will not go, and I am not complaining about that. I am not a chairman, and I am not senior. But I will tell you one thing: The people of Georgia elected me, and they sent me here to represent them, and they should understand and expect a basic minimum guarantee that is at least the same as they have been used to.

Fair is fair, and facts are facts. There are a lot of loose numbers floating around, because, very frankly, we do not know where all the numbers are. But there is one irrefutable fact: 90.5 percent of 93 percent beats 90.5 percent of 84 percent, no matter whether you use new math, old math or trigonometry.

This is about equity, this is about fairness, this is about representing the people who sent us to this Congress.

I am grateful for the opportunities that have been afforded all these Members, from Indiana, Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, Arizona, all over the country. This is not a provincial issue. This is a people's issue. This is about doing what is right.

We have great leadership on our committee. They have done a good job. But this bill needs improvement. The legacy for users in America should not be an inequitable distribution of the money they sent to Washington because of the use of their roads.

Fair is fair, and facts are facts. I urge a yes vote on the Isakson amendment.

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Mr. ISAKSON. Mr. Chairman, I demand a recorded vote.

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