Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding the Surface Transportation jobs bill. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
A few potholes on the drive to work may be an inconvenience.
But for companies that ship $10 trillion worth of goods across the country each year, disintegrating roads are more than a nuisance.
A crowded train ride to the office or a broken escalator at the station may be a hassle.
But for 51 million Americans with disabilities – many of whom rely on public transportation to get around – outdated stations and overcrowded trains are more than a minor annoyance.
This country’s crumbling highways, roadways, railways and bridges are more than an inconvenience. They’re a drain on our economy.
Twenty percent of American roads don’t meet safety standards.
More than 70,000 bridges in this country need to be replaced or overhauled.
And our public transportation system can’t keep up with the pace of growing ridership.
Nine out of 10 Americans say rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges is important.
Democrats in the Senate agree. Modernizing our transit systems and rebuilding the roads American families and businesses depend on will help fuel our economic recovery.
This legislation is too important to be bogged down with unrelated, ideological amendments. Senate Republicans should not commandeer a transportation bill to try to take away women’s access to health services such as contraception, mammograms and other cancer screenings.
The Surface Transportation jobs bill the Senate is considering will create or save 2 million American jobs. And it has broad, bipartisan support.
I respect and appreciate the work done by Senator Boxer and Senator Inhofe on this legislation.
Unfortunately, our House Republican colleagues have gone in the opposite direction. Their bill is a love note to the Tea Party.
The House bill didn’t get a single Democratic vote in committee. The Senate bill, on the other hand, passed out of committee unanimously.
Even some Republicans don’t even support the way the House bill is paid for – by drilling for oil in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
And Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a Republican, said the House legislation is the worst transportation bill he has seen in 35 years of public service.
There are plenty of reasons, but here are a few:
- The House legislation would gut public health and environmental protections.
- It would ax funding for pedestrian safety, even though a pedestrian is injured or killed by a car in this country every seven minutes.
- And it would starve our nation’s public transportation systems.
The House bill reverses 30 years of good policy of dedicating funding each year for mass transit. That policy was enacted in 1982 by President Reagan.
Many House Republicans don’t support the plan to shortchange millions of Americans – especially seniors and people with disabilities – who count on public transportation.
And everyone from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to AARP has come out against the drastic approach taken by the House bill.
On the other hand, the U.S. Chamber and hundreds of other national organizations support of the Senate bill.
I am disappointed that House Republicans have once again chosen the partisan path.
Rebuilding a transportation system our economy can rely on shouldn’t be divisive.
Given a choice between working with Democrats to create good-paying jobs for American workers and playing politics, House Republicans chose politics once again.