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In Opposition to H.R. 5021

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government

In Opposition to H.R. 5021

Congressman Earl Blumenauer
Congressional Record: 114th Congress
Extensions of Remarks
July 15, 2015


Mr. BLUMENAUER. Mr. Speaker, I would like to submit the following statement I made last year on H.R. 5021:

I am pleased that Congress is finally acting today, not with a looming crisis, but one that is already upon us. This is entirely predictable.

I have been arguing for months that Congress needs to act because the stopgap measure we did last Congress was designed to create precisely this Congress at precisely this time.

Sixty-two groups may have signed on a letter of support, but they prefer us to act meaningfully for long-term funding. They accept this because it is the only alternative to shutting down activities this summer.

My Republican friends are unwilling--not unable--but unwilling to resolve the funding contradictions. Revenues have failed to keep pace with the demands of an aging growing Nation, making no change for 21 years, as our infrastructure ages and falls apart, our Nation continues to grow and transportation patterns change. It is guaranteed that we should change as well.

This Congress has refused to address its responsibilities. The House Ways and Means Committee has not had a single hearing on transportation finance. One of our most important responsibilities, uniquely ours, one that is unlike so many other items we deal with, it is possible to resolve. We haven't had a hearing in the 43 months that the Republicans have been in charge of Congress.

Now, I understand there are conflicts within the Republican Caucus. There are some that appear satisfied with locking us into a slow, steady decline called for in the Republican budget-- no new projects until October of 2015 and a 30 percent reduction over the next decade, at exactly the time the Federal partnership should be enhanced, not reduced.

There are others in the Republicans whose answer is to just abandon ship, to give up on the Federal partnership, slash the Federal gas tax, and abandon any hope of a national transportation policy and partnership to help States with projects that are multistate in nature or that need to be done whether economic times are bad.

That would be tragic and wrong to abandon the partnership that has meant so much, but it is part of what is driving some of our Republican Tea Party friends. Just because there may not be a majority in the Republican ranks for either approach does not mean that we should continue to dither.

Because Republicans friends are unwilling or unable to resolve this, we have frozen the Transportation Committee in place. They don't have a bill. They are not going to have a bill unless we resolve what the budget number is: increase, continue the downward slide, or abandon it altogether.

We will be no better off next May to resolve this question. In fact, we will be worse off because we will be in the middle of a Presidential campaign, with a new Congress, maybe new committee lineups.

We should reject this approach to hand off our responsibilities. We should resolve the resource question, and we should commit that this Congress is not going to recess for August vacation, not going to recess to campaign in October, until we have worked to give the American people a transportation bill they need--deserve--to jump-start the economy, create hundreds of thousands of family-wage jobs, and strengthen communities and families across the Nation.

American infrastructure used to be the best in the world and a point of pride bringing Americans together. It is now a source of embarrassment and deep concern as we fall further and further behind global leaders.

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