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Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. FUDGE. Mr. Chair, I rise today to address the dire need to provide resources to repair our nation's infrastructure and put Americans back to work.

One of the best ways to create jobs today is to invest in American transportation and infrastructure through the fiscal year 2013 Transportation-Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, approximately 35,000 jobs are created for every $1 billion spent on highway and bridge construction. If Congress can spend a billion dollars each month fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, then we should be able to invest in America's workforce and infrastructure.

The very foundation of America, our infrastructure, is crumbling beneath our feet. The current condition of the infrastructure in the U.S. earns a grade of ``D''.

One-third of our roads are in poor, mediocre or fair condition and nearly 70,000 of our bridges are structurally deficient.

China and India have outpaced the U.S. with respect to infrastructure spending. Among developed countries, we rank 23rd in the world, behind South Korea, Taiwan and Barbados.

Now is not the time to short change our future; now is the time to repair our infrastructure.

In addition to repairing America's infrastructure, it is imperative that I address the lack of funding for housing in the Transportation-Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill. Allowing drastic cuts in the HUD budget squanders the opportunity to create jobs and address the nation's affordable housing needs.

Simply stated, vulnerable Americans will lose their housing if Congress passes this bill in its current form. This bill will ``short fund'' project-based Section 8 contracts, which will force HUD to straddle fiscal years to shift costs from FY2013 to FY2014 and beyond. Because contracts are currently funded for 12 months, the proposed $1.1 billion in ``savings'' will have to be made up in the next fiscal year.

If the funds are not replenished in fiscal year 2014 and beyond, the consequences will be dire:
1.3 million families, 53 percent of whom are elderly or disabled, face losing their housing;
100,000 jobs will be in jeopardy;
$460 million in local tax receipts could be lost; and
$13.6 billion in Federal Housing Authority insured debt will be at risk.
If funding for contract renewals under the Tenant Based Rental Assistance program is not increased, 58,000 low-income households will lose rental assistance in fiscal year 2013.

The reality is that millions of low-income families, who need a strong safety net, are assisted by HUD to help them through difficult times. By eliminating this funding, we are pulling the safety, net from underneath them allowing more Americans to fall into poverty and homelessness.

I urge my colleagues to oppose this Appropriations bill.

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