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Public Statements

Beyond "Bike-Partisanship"

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. BLUMENAUER. For years, I have traveled the country preaching ``bike-partisanship,'' using bicycle and pedestrian facilities to help people burn calories, not fossil fuel, improve their health, have fun, and enrich the community. Red State, blue State, Republican, Democrat, Independent, it doesn't matter; the public gets it and has been part of an amazing renaissance. Let's redouble our efforts at creating a stronger Federal partnership to help more communities realize this vision.

But let's not stop with bike-partisanship. Are there other areas that are low or no cost that enjoy broad public support, solve problems, and bring people together rather than divide them? What about rebuilding and renewing America? Certainly the need is there.

Until recently, the T&I Committee was an island of congressional consensus. Since we merely extended the last transportation reauthorization and the new Congress must act in about 97 weeks, let's work on a bolder vision of investing in America, one that puts people to work, improves the economy, the environment, and saves money in the long run. Congress can begin on this now.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Congress can't ignore the near bankrupt flood insurance program. While we fix the short-term problems, however, let's make it more effective, efficient, and actuarially sound so that it will spare lives, property, and the Federal Treasury. Overhauling the flood insurance program would solve the most immediate challenges caused by extreme weather events likely due to global warming. We may even be able to discuss climate change in a more thoughtful and rational way.

Based on the work I've done in the past with Congressman Paul Ryan and Senator-elect Jeff Flake, I know agricultural reform is a ripe opportunity. Taxpayers cannot afford to lavish unnecessary subsidies on large agribusiness while harming the environment and shortchanging small farmers and ranchers.

Surely Tea Party Republicans and members of the Progressive Caucus can come together to improve nutrition, wildlife habitats, hunting, and fishing while strengthening family farms.

And since Big Bird dodged a bullet during the Presidential campaign, maybe it's time to address the vital role that the Federal support for public broadcasting plays, which we all rely on--not just for news and information, but education for our kids and, as illustrated by Hurricane Sandy, emergency communication.

With incredibly broad public support from Americans regardless of political party, Congress should make a long-term financial commitment to funding the most trusted brand in broadcasting so it can plan for the future.

The last 10 years have been characterized by bipartisan cooperation to promote access to safe drinking water and sanitation around the globe. My 2005 legislation, cosponsored by Henry Hyde, Bill Frist, Harry Reid, saved lives and made friends for America.

In this Congress we have another bipartisan bill, Water for the World, which is cosponsored by my friend Ted Poe, which would build on that foundation and accelerate progress. It's all teed up and ready to go and could be easily passed next week.

Mr. Speaker, 86 percent of Americans think getting full information about their situation as a loved one faces the end of life should be a top priority for health care. Before the 2009 political ``lie of the year'' about ``death panels,'' this provision in the health care reform enjoyed broad bipartisan support.

There is new legislation to personalize people's health care so that they get the information they need to make these difficult, sometimes painful, decisions and make sure their decisions, whatever they are, are respected by doctors and hospitals. This refined legislation could easily be achieved now that we're implementing health care reform.

These are all bipartisan, cost-effective initiatives that are overwhelmingly embraced by the public. Is it perhaps time to have a Legislators' Caucus, where Members in both parties who just want to get something done can come together with ideas like these? Who knows? Working together to get something done might become habit-forming.

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