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Providing for Consideration of H.R. 5021, Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. WELCH. I thank the gentleman.

Madam Speaker, the hallmark of a great country is a great infrastructure.

In its infancy, this country built interstate canals that helped commerce and life become strong and our economy vigorous. In the height of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln met with Justin Morrill, then a Senator from the State of Vermont, and conceived the ambition of an intercontinental railroad. In the 1950s, President Dwight D. Eisenhower said that we needed an interstate highway system.

This temporary bill, where our only responsibility is to make sure we can preserve what we have by having the funds necessary to repair roads and bridges is an abdication of our responsibility. Congress can do better, and America needs better. Our bridges and our roads are falling apart. I recently visited two projects in Vermont that are in desperate need of repair, but this bill provides temporary funding for 8 months. Not only that, instead of basing it on user fees, which have always been the way we funded infrastructure projects that we all benefit by, it raids pension funds. It essentially creates a pothole in future pensions to fill potholes in our highways.

Some folks are saying that we need time in order to put together a long-term bill. Madam Speaker, we have had time. What we need is a decision. There are options out there. As the gentleman from Colorado said, we are not lacking options; what we are lacking is will. This has traditionally been an area of common agreement between Republicans and Democrats where, yes, it is always difficult to figure out what that revenue source is, but that difficulty is not an excuse for Congress to fail to do its job and give this highway trust fund a sustainable and long-term revenue source so that folks in Montpelier and folks in Austin, Texas, can put together those plans to repair our roads and bridges, put America back to work, and get this economy going.

I urge us to defeat this rule and to defeat this bill and for Congress finally to do its job.

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