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Conference Report on H.R. 4348, Moving Ahead for Congress in the 21st Century Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. CUMMINGS. Thank you, Ranking Member Rahall, and thank you for your leadership. I also thank Chairman Mica and all of my colleagues.

This bill provides certainty for our States, but overall funding for highways is reduced relative to fiscal year 2011. To ensure our Nation's mobility, we need expanded investments in all modes.

Critically, this bill finds that discrimination and related barriers continue to pose obstacles for minority and women-owned business in the transportation industry. My colleagues and I have considered the extensive evidence provided to us in testimony in the Transportation Committee and detailed disparity studies documenting ongoing discrimination in transportation contracting. We've concluded there is a compelling national interest in reauthorizing our DBE programs. I thank Senator Boxer for her leadership on this issue.

That said, I'm disappointed that House Democrats' participation in the conference was so limited. And as I have had the chance to review the final report, several of its provisions deeply concern me--perhaps none more so than section 100124, which would reduce by one-third the percent of food aid shipped on U.S. vessels.

There are fewer than 100 U.S.-flagged vessels in the foreign trade now, and they carry less than 2 percent of U.S. cargos. Without the MSP and cargo preference programs, we would have no domestic merchant marine, leaving our military, and indeed, our economy, completely dependent on foreign vessels.

The effect of section 100124 will be to speed the continuing decline of our fleet. It should never have been included in this bill, and it should be immediately repealed.

With that, I am going to support the bill and urge my colleagues to support it.


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