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In Opposition to the Rule on H.R. 5021

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government

In Opposition to the Rule on H.R. 5021

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


SPEECH OF
HON. EARL BLUMENAUER
OF OREGON
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
WEDNESDAY, JULY 15, 2015


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

I listened carefully to what you said, and you are right--this closed rule is a disservice. My respected friend from Florida, I think, is just wrong.

Mr. Speaker, this is not a solution, and it is not a deliberate, thoughtful process. We have not had a single hearing on transportation finance in the Ways and Means Committee all year. We didn't have one the year before that. We haven't had a hearing in the 43 months that Republicans have been in charge.

This is a perfectly predictable problem that was created by the halfhearted bill that they passed last Congress. We knew this was coming for months. Now we are here.

With all due respect, I, too, am disappointed that we have a rule that does not make in order broad discussion and amendment. We have been unable in this Congress to deal meaningfully with the looming transportation crisis.

The gentleman is on the Transportation Committee. He doesn't have a bill. We are almost through this Congress, and we don't have a bill. America is falling apart. America is falling behind. We have failed to give America's communities the resources and a robust 6-year reauthorization plan.

We have done it before under the chairmanship of Bud Shuster and Ranking Member Jim Oberstar, and I was happy to have played a small role. That bill made a difference.

If we fail to come to grips with the funding level and, instead, in approving this rule and the underlying bill, this Congress is giving itself a ticket out of town to adjourn and pass it on to not just the next Congress but to the Congress after that. Make no mistake. In May 2015, you are not going to be in any different a place. It is going to be May 2017.

Congress has legitimate policy differences. I appreciate my friend from New Jersey. Some people think that the Federal Government should get out of the partnership that we have had and reduce or eliminate the Federal gas tax.

They are willing to give up on the successful partnership and let each State decide what to do, when it wants to do it, or what it is able or not able to do. They would abandon all sense of a national vision and the ability to shape transportation policies. That is rejected by the mayors, rejected by county commissioners, rejected by State transportation officials. They want that partnership.

Frankly, there are some people who feel the gas tax ought to be adjusted to deal with inflation and increased fuel economy as well as the demands of a growing Nation with an aging infrastructure.

Some people are comfortable with the Republican budget, which will have no new projects for 15 months and will doom us to a 30 percent reduction over the next 10 years.

Those are legitimate policy differences, but we are not dealing with them here on the floor. We are shrugging our shoulders, passing them on to the next Congress and, frankly, to the Congress after that.

I agree with the people who build and maintain and use our transportation infrastructure. We should address this infrastructure question head on. 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.

We ought to reject this rule. We ought to allow full debate and, by all means, resolve the funding question now so we can go forward. America deserves no less.

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