Her complete statement follows:
“Last night, the House passed H.R. 2353 to extend the federal surface transportation programs for two months, through July 31st. If these programs had been allowed to expire, all federal transportation funding to states and local governments would have stopped on May 31st, and numerous constructions jobs on highways, bridges and transit systems could have been cancelled. According to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, this needless crisis brought uncertainty to 6,000 critical construction projects across the country, and left 660,000 good-paying construction jobs hanging in the balance.
I voted for this bill, but I did so reluctantly because what we really need is a multi-year transportation bill that will bring our nation’s transportation system into the 21st century. A multi-year transportation bill with robust funding for highway, bridge and transit construction will create thousands of good jobs and provide certainty to states and local governments.
Federal investment in our nation’s transportation system is essential. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave the public infrastructure of the United States a grade of “D+” in 2013 and estimated that we will need to invest $3.6 trillion by 2020 in order to improve the condition of our infrastructure.
Rebuilding our nation’s transportation infrastructure creates jobs that are desperately needed throughout the country. The economy is still struggling to recover from the recession. The unemployment rate is 5.4 percent nationwide and is significantly higher in some minority and disadvantaged communities. Transportation funding is clearly good for the economy.
Congressional Republicans have had months to prepare a multi-year transportation bill. Unfortunately, all they did last night is punt the deadline two months deeper into the critical summer construction season. I urge my Republican colleagues to work with us over the next two months so we can finally pass a multi-year transportation bill before the July 31st deadline.
Congressional Republicans are further jeopardizing our nation’s transportation system by slashing funding for TIGER. TIGER – formally known as Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery – is a nationwide competitive grant program that creates jobs by funding investments in transportation infrastructure by states, local governments, and transit agencies. TIGER funds innovative projects that generate economic development and improve access to safe, reliable, and affordable transportation alternatives.
Earlier this year, the President requested $1.25 billion for TIGER in fiscal year 2016, as part of an expanded TIGER program that would provide $7.5 billion for TIGER over 6 years. This expanded TIGER program will create jobs, encourage innovation, and modernize transportation infrastructure for the 21st century.
I sent a letter to the Appropriations Committee urging full funding of the President’s $1.25 billion request for TIGER in FY 2016, and a total of 146 Members of Congress signed my letter.
Nevertheless, the House Republicans’ version of the FY 2016 Transportation and Housing Appropriations (THUD) bill provides only $100 million for TIGER. That’s an 80 percent cut from FY 2015 and a small fraction of the President’s request. This kind of drastic cut in TIGER will needlessly cripple highway and transit construction plans that are already struggling due to the uncertainty surrounding the future of the transportation bill.
We need more federal investment in transportation infrastructure, and we need it now! That is why I am introducing the TIGER Grants for Job Creation Act. This bill will provide an emergency supplemental appropriation totaling $7.5 billion dollars over the next six years for job creation through investments in transportation infrastructure. This emergency supplemental appropriation will fully fund the President’s proposal for an expanded TIGER.
Passage of an emergency supplemental appropriation will provide funding for TIGER free from sequestration and without reducing funding for other important domestic priorities. It will also allow states, local governments, and transit agencies to begin immediately to plan projects and prepare grant applications. Thus, it will ensure an efficient use of funds and timely job creation.
I urge all of my colleagues to support the TIGER Grants for Job Creation Act and fully fund the President’s request for TIGER, and I urge my colleagues to pass a multi-year transportation bill to bring our highways, bridges and public transit systems into the 21st century.”
Twaun Samuel ((202) 225-2201)