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

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. KAPTUR. I thank Ranking Member Olver, the gentleman from Massachusetts, for recognizing me today.

First, I would like to share my appreciation for all of the work that Congressman OLVER has dedicated his life to throughout his two-decade-long career with intelligence, integrity, and honor. More recently, I would like to take a moment to recognize the work he has done the past 4 years as both chair and ranking member of the very productive, bipartisan Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Subcommittee. His presence, his experience, his moderation, his knowledge, his collegiality, and his genius will certainly be missed, and we thank him for his phenomenal service to our country.

With that, I applaud the work that both he and Chairman Latham have done with the subcommittee FY 2013 legislation. Unfortunately, their sense of necessary bipartisanship does not extend to the leadership of this House.

I must reference the beginning of the appropriations process and the leadership's misguided decision to undermine the Budget Control Act of 2011. The result of our negotiations last summer created a bipartisan agreement, with discretionary programs having a spending cap of $1.047 trillion. However, the Republican leadership reneged on that deal, leaving us with $19 billion less for discretionary programs essential for the American public and the American economy during this crucial moment of economic recovery.

Despite the fact that they pulled the rug out from under the committee, on transportation, Amtrak is actually funded somewhat above the fiscal year 2012 level. You know, America has 300 million people today, a little bit over that. By 2050 she will have 500 million people. We simply need leadership in this country to know that we have to meet the needs of a new day. This bill moves us in that direction.

The legislation also provides renewal of housing contracts for every eligible individual and family currently receiving them, though for two-thirds of them, they will not get the full year renewal. This is not the moment to undermine our Nation's housing market further.

Local community programs like CDBG and HOME are funded at less than adequate levels, but we did the best we could with the allocation. An important program, the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program, is fully funded at $75 million, which will provide housing vouchers for over 10,000 veterans, most of them homeless

across our country.

Again, I want to thank Chairman Latham and Ranking Member Olver, as well as the full committee Chairman Rogers and Ranking Member Dicks for their work. This bill is constrained by budget realities that continue to reward Wall Street insiders at the expense of the middle class and the poor. I alone can't change that, but this bill demonstrates that the Appropriations Committee does its work of maintaining a stable Federal Government as fundamental to a stable society in this great Nation.


Ms. KAPTUR. I thank the gentlelady for yielding.

I rise in support of the Waters TIGER grant amendment. I agree with the gentlelady that there's no stronger job creator than investment in transportation: Bridges, transit systems, overpasses, passenger rail, port development. It makes America more efficient, and it makes us more competitive. And there's never been a more critical moment than now to do it.

As kids, we used to sing this song:

London bridge is falling down, falling down. London bridge is falling down. One, two, three, we all fall down.

Well, we saw what happened in Minnesota when that bridge fell down.

[Begin Insert]
In Cleveland, the Inner Belt Bridge project did not receive the $125 million needed to continue to replace the aging I-90 bridge. The current bridge is being used well beyond its intended lifespan, and is the same design as the bridge that collapsed in Minneapolis in 2007.

In NW Ohio, there is a smaller project in need of funding. McCord Road in Holland, Ohio is the site of Nortfolk Southern's main line and Amtrak. Two high school students from Springfield High School were involved in a tragic accident there in 2009--one lost their life and one was permanently injured, having lost a leg.

The McCord Road project requested just $10 million. However, it did not receive funding with this round of TIGER grants.

There are thousands more projects like this across the Nation, both large and small, but all in great need of investment from the federal government.

I urge my colleagues to support this funding for National Infrastructure Investments. Let's build America's homeland forward and put America to work in the process.


Ms. KAPTUR. I wish to say it's amazing what we can find money for and what we can't find money for. When Wall Street came in here, in a flash in a weekend, $700 billion walked out the door--a thousand times more than the gentlelady is asking for. And it would seem to me that with this point of order, there's never been a more critical time in our country to waive it in order to do the job of America.

I mentioned the Minneapolis bridge that collapsed. Well, I can tell you we have one in Cleveland that's ready to do the same. It's the same design.

What could be more important than investing in this country, creating jobs, and meeting these unmet national needs. In western Ohio, we have McCord Road, the site of a major Norfolk Southern mainline in Amtrak, and young people were killed there at grade. And now they delayed that project decades rather than doing the kind of grade crossing that's needed.

Mr. Chairman, you can talk about points of order, but the most important point of order is keep the Nation in order. And I think the most important way we can do that is to keep this transportation funding flowing, making our Nation more competitive, creating jobs, and leaving a legacy to the future better than we found it. So I strongly support the gentlelady's amendment and object to the point of order and ask, along with my colleagues, that it be waived.


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