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Public Statements

Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. PELOSI. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

I couldn't resist the opportunity to come to the floor to speak on the situation that we have before us.

I thank the gentleman from West Virginia for his ongoing leadership in terms of bipartisanship and constructive legislation to rebuild America, which is so important to us. It has been the tradition--Mr. Mica will admit--that this has always been a bipartisan effort. That is the history. That is the tradition. That has served the country well.

For the first time, however, the Republicans have chosen to do a strictly Republican bill which our very respected Secretary of Transportation who served in this House as a Republican, served as a Member of Congress as well as served the minority leader, Mr. Mica, as a staff person, so he has a long history of knowledge of legislation in the Congress, said this was the worst transportation bill he had seen in his 35 years of public service--and, again, this is a field in which he is an expert.

He said the bill loses jobs, the bill Republicans want to put forth, H.R. 7, and it also diminishes safety. That is not a formula for a good transportation bill--less safety, fewer jobs, losing jobs. And so, we have an opportunity to support a bipartisan bill that has come from the Senate, three-quarters of the Senate in a bipartisan way passed it out. March 31 is the deadline when all of this will expire unless Congress acts, and Congress is not acting because the Republican majority does not have its act together. Their ``our way or the highway'' attitude means no highway bill that creates jobs and promotes public safety.

It's really so sad because in the tradition of our country, from the start, from the very start, Thomas Jefferson understood the need for building the infrastructure of America. He tasked his Secretary of the Treasury, Gallatin, to come up with a project that would expand into America, the Louisiana Purchase, and the Lewis and Clark expeditions. And out of that initiative came the Cumberland Road, the Erie Canal, and other things like that over time, and in that tradition, the Transcontinental Railroad and the rest that would come later.

Then in our century, a Republican President, President Eisenhower, at a time of bad economic times, bad economic times, he went forward and took the initiative for the interstate highway initiative, which was so important to our country. It was a security issue to unite America. It was a jobs initiative to build that interstate highway system. And it was about promoting commerce, connecting people, and improving the quality of life. It was a great initiative, and it, too, was a bipartisan initiative. In fact, in the Senate, our friend, Senator Gore, Vice President Gore, his father took the lead on that legislation, the distinguished gentleman from Tennessee, as we heard earlier from the gentlemen from Tennessee.

So this has all been a bipartisan initiative. It's about rebuilding America, which is part of our reigniting the American Dream to build ladders of opportunities so people who work hard, play by the rules, and take responsibility can have a ladder of success to climb and then put down for others to do. And part of that is A, Make It In America so that people can make it in America; and B, and I get to this point, build America, build America, build the infrastructure of America. And that means everything from the highways with mass transit, rapid transit, high-speed rail, and all kinds of technological infrastructure that we need with broadband and the rest.

It doesn't have any political or partisan cast to it at all. It never has--until now. And until now, for reasons that are very hard to explain to the American people, while we have a solution, we have a challenge. The authorization expires March 31. We have a bill that can be sent to the President in a matter of hours from this House of Representatives this day. And instead of smoothing the way, the road to jobs, we have the Republicans putting up, yet again, another obstacle because they have not been able to get unity in their caucus on a bill that promotes commerce, builds America, promotes safety, and creates jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs.

So what are we doing wasting the public's time with a 60-day extension? I support the leadership of our ranking member, Mr. Rahall, when he talks about why we have to do something better, something more important, something more worthy of the concerns of the American people than a parliamentary maneuver that isn't going to produce anything. It doesn't even have anything attached to it that says, let's do this now so that we can do something better later. It has a bill that they cannot even pass on the House floor, their own H.R. 7. If they could pass that, they would. Their own caucus doesn't support what they're putting forth. So they expect the rest of us to cover for them.

Well, that is a real disservice to the American people. It is a real disservice to the hundreds of thousands of construction workers who are out of work. This job in its totality, and the jobs it would save and the jobs it would create, over 2 million jobs, and yet instead of doing that, we have a tactical maneuver for God knows what reason.

Everything we do is about time. It's about time, shortening the time in which people have to wait for jobs, shortening the times in which people get to and

from their jobs. And it's about time that we put the American people back to work by passing the biggest jobs bill that Congress can ever pass, and that is a transportation bill. We have it right at our disposal. Mr. Bishop introduced it as H.R. 14, we brought it up earlier today, and the Republicans resoundingly voted against the Senate bill. And I understand it was a procedural vote.

Now in a substantive vote, why don't you bring that bill to the floor? Why don't you bring that bill to the floor? And I ask the question again to my Republican colleagues: Why don't you bring the bill to the floor that three-quarters of the United States Senate in a bipartisan way passed out? We all want a longer bill. This is the bill they can pass. This is the bill we should pass so that the President can sign it into law. Anything else is just a conversation. Taking action, taking the votes, that is what the American people expect us to do. So we can talk all we want. What the American people want us to do is to act. And so I reject 60 days when we can do something much better for the American people.


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