U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) on Wednesday called on the House-Senate Transportation Conference Committee to move forward on the Senate legislation passed with an overwhelming bipartisan majority in March. The federal programs that fund surface transportation projects across the country will expire on June 30th, immediately endangering 150 jobs and nearly $200 million in projects on I-95 in Delaware alone. If reauthorized, the Senate bill would create or save 6,700 jobs in Delaware, and nearly three million nationwide.
"We need to keep people working, and my question is, where is the speed bump? Where is the roadblock?" Senator Coons asked at a press conference at the foot of the Capitol in front of an armada of cement mixers and construction vehicles. "It's not in these folks -- it's not in the folks ready with equipment and materials and people -- ready, willing and able to go to work. It's right there -- it's in the House of Representatives -- where, if Democrats and responsible Republicans, under the leadership of the Speaker would come together, we could pass this bill and get Americans back to work."
"I spoke to our secretary of transportation just earlier today," Senator Coons said. "$200 million worth of construction work and 150 jobs already underway, fronted by our state, will come to a screeching halt if this is not extended. We need to put people back to work."
"Where else in America do you have the Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO, the National Association of Manufacturers and the Laborers, agreeing on a bill," Senator Coons asked. "A bipartisan majority out of the Senate and yet a small band of extremists insists on holding it, and holding it, and holding it longer, until it suffocates the opportunities for growth, for jobs, and opportunity."
He was joined at the press conference by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, as well as Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), John Kerry (D-Mass.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), as well as representatives of the American Association of Highway and Transit Officials and the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association.
"I just want to know how the extremists in the House Republican Caucus can say that they are not a roadblock to progress in this country," Senator Coons asked in closing.
"Mr. Speaker, pass this bill."