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Public Statements

Surface Transportation

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. STABENOW. Mr. President, I rise today in support of the Senate SAFETEA bill that is before us, the Transportation bill. I first want to thank my colleague from Washington State for her leadership on so many different issues, including provisions in the Transportation bill. I thank Senators INHOFE and JEFFORDS for drafting a good bill for the country and a good bill for Michigan.

I am pleased the Senate is passing this critical bill today. Unfortunately, this has been delayed for over 20 months and Congress has passed six TEA-21 extensions. It is my hope that we will not have to pass a seventh and this bill will be completed before the end of the month. We have already lost one spring construction season in Michigan, and we certainly don't want to lose another.

During the budget debate, I worked with Senator Talent on a successful amendment to help the Senate produce a well-funded highway bill and keep all the funding options on the table. This amendment was included in the final budget resolution, and I am pleased to say it helped pave the way for the additional $11 billion that was added to the Senate bill.

As my colleagues know, this bill isn't just about improving our roads, transit systems, and buses, but it is also about creating jobs. The Department of Transportation estimates that for every $1 billion of highway spending, we are creating 47,500 new jobs, and this generates more than $2 billion in economic activity.

Mr. President, we need this bill. Michigan needs this bill. Over the last 4 years, Michigan has lost jobs. The SAFETEA bill will create good-paying jobs and help thousands of Michigan families make ends meet. So it is absolutely critical we pass this bill today.

We are not talking about minimum-wage jobs, we are talking about well-paying jobs that help Michigan families pay their mortgages, save for retirement, and pay for their children's education. The SAFETEA bill will create over 59,000 jobs in Michigan alone.

Mr. President, this delay has also cost Michigan additional highway funding that we desperately need. Our communities are growing, congestion is getting worse, and our roads are worn down through increased wear and tear, but we are still working under funding formulas that are over 7 years old.

In fact, Detroit ranks ninth nationally for having the worst traffic congestion. That is even worse than the delays in Boston and Philadelphia.

The Senate bill would provide Michigan with over $6.65 billion in highway funding and $600 million in transit investment to help address our congested roads and increase bus service throughout our State. This also is desperately needed.

We cannot fix these problems without a well-funded highway bill. Unfortunately, the House TEA-LU doesn't provide the resources we need to address our aging roads and transit systems. This also would mean fewer jobs for Michigan and the country.

I also add that the Senate bill continues to move us forward for Michigan to get its fair share. We are not there in terms of dollar for dollar, and I will continue to fight in every Transportation bill until we get there. But we need to move forward so Michigan gets a better share in this bill and a better opportunity to have the resources and jobs we need.

As this bill goes to conference with the House, I urge my colleagues to stand behind the Senate bill. Once again, this Senate will be passing a bill that is better than what has been passed in the House. It is more fair. I am very hopeful we will stand together on a bipartisan basis and insist that the Senate version ultimately be the version that is passed.

We also need for the bill to be fair and for it to meet the needs of our communities, and we need to make sure we are creating as many jobs as possible. It is time to invest in the best possible resources for our Nation's transportation needs. I am pleased that because of the bipartisan effort in the Senate we will be having a vote today on final passage of this desperately needed bill. Hopefully, we will see it going to the President in a form that is fair for Michigan, for all of our States, and that it is something that will address the future needs of our country.

Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.

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