SHAHEEN: HOUSE SHOULD WORK WITH SENATE ON LONG-TERM TRANSPORTATION BILL

Transportation Bill Needed to Move Forward on I-93 Project

April 26, 2012

Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) today called on the House of Representatives to begin working with the Senate on a final version of a long-term federal transportation bill to fund critical highway and transit programs. In remarks on the Senate floor, Shaheen spoke specifically of the bill’s importance to completing work on New Hampshire’s badly congested Interstate 93.

The nation’s federal transportation programs are currently operating under a short-term extension that expires June 30.

Shaheen’s remarks come a day after the Senate elected 14 representatives to a joint committee of the Senate and House of Representatives which will negotiate on a final version of the bill. The House has not yet appointed anyone to this committee.

Shaheen’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:

Mr. President, 42 days ago – that’s more than 1,000 hours – 74 Senators voted to pass a badly-needed, long-term transportation bill.

At that time, I joined many of my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to call on the House to consider the Senate’s bill or another bipartisan bill that would provide highway and transit programs with level funding for at least two years.

While the House has not yet passed a long-term bill, I am pleased they voted to go to conference with the Senate. 

We’re one step closer to finally having legislation in place that supports nearly 2 million jobs, maintains current funding levels and avoids an increase in both the deficit and gas taxes.

I urge the House to immediately appoint conferees so we can continue moving forward and finally pass a long-term transportation bill.  We cannot wait any longer.

Mr. President, 937 days have passed since our last federal transportation bill expired.  That’s two years, six months and 27 days.

If the House doesn’t join the Senate and support a reasonable, bipartisan transportation bill, states and towns won’t have the certainty they need from Washington to plan their projects and improve their transportation infrastructure.

According to numerous studies, deteriorating infrastructure – the highways and railroads that knit our economy together – costs businesses more than a hundred billion dollars a year in lost productivity.  This is no time to stall programs that encourage economic growth and create the climate for businesses to succeed.

In New Hampshire we’ve directly experienced the consequences of this uncertainty.

The I-93 project would reduce congestion on our state’s most important road, create jobs and spur economic development in New Hampshire.  Although it’s been underway for several years, the pace of the project has been dramatically slower than it should be because we don’t have a transportation bill.

Businesses and developers along the I-93 corridor can’t hire workers or invest for the future while the project remains uncertain.  We need to act now to unleash the economic growth that transportation investments make possible.

We know that projects like I-93 produce good jobs.  New Hampshire’s Department of Transportation has said that work on just one section of the highway, between exits 2 and 3, created 369 construction jobs.

All around the country, there are projects like I-93 are waiting on Congress to complete this effort.  It shouldn’t be so hard to get this done.

Cities and businesses need certainty before the height of construction season.  The longer the House waits to appoint conferees, the harder it will be for Congress to pass a long-term transportation bill that will kick state and local investments into gear.

I urge the House to swiftly appoint representatives to negotiate with the Senate so that we can come together to make the federal investments necessary to get transportation projects moving and get people back to work.

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