Washington, D.C. - Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor today in opposition to the House Republican leadership's decision to pass a temporary extension of transportation funding in place of passing the bipartisan two-year Senate transportation bill, which would save or create over 2 million jobs and provide certainty to America's construction workers and small businesses. Below are the Leader's remarks:
“Thank you Madam Speaker. I thank the gentleman for yielding and I thank him for his tireless efforts on behalf of America's workers, for his attempts to bring to the floor a bipartisan transportation bill, as has been the custom in our House. And as we do have the opportunity to do, by taking up the Senate bill.
“The bill in the Senate has bipartisan support - 74 plus one who was absent, but supporting the bill, 75 Members of the Senate support that legislation, it is bipartisan, it creates jobs and it should be worthy of our support. It has the co-sponsorship of the Chair and the Ranking Member of the Committee - from Chairwoman Barbara Boxer to Ranking Member, Senator Inhofe - a wide array of philosophical thinking, all of it coming together around a bipartisan initiative.
“The American people have a right to know why - why the Republicans in the Senate, the Democrats in the Senate, the President of the United States, the House Democrats, all support this bipartisan bill, why the Republicans in the House are odd-man-out. It recalls to mind when they were odd-person-out on the Payroll Tax Cut in December, when all of the other parties had come together in a bipartisan way. But what is dangerous about what is happening here today is that this initiative, this ‘kick the can down the road,' this ‘my or no highway bill' attitude is costing jobs. And I'm sure that they have been reviewed: 41,000 in North Carolina, 4,500 in Illinois, 4,000 in Maryland - the list goes on and on, just because of the delay and the uncertainty that is injected into the system. This costs the taxpayer more. Small businesses suffer because they cannot proceed with contracts, and the rest, to go forward. And it is a job loser, as I mentioned.
“So, this has nothing to recommend it. Except, to be explained by the fact that the Republicans cannot even bring their own transportation bill to the floor and pass it. Their own transportation bill is not a good bill, but at least it would take us to conference. They can't vote for their own bill - I don't know how that happens, but they have a bill that they can't support. But, in addition to not being able to support their own bill, and it's interesting that the budget and transportation are on the floor at the same time, they have this bill and in the budget that they're going to be voting on today they have cut transportation funding in half, from $90 billion to $46 billion. That's $44 billion worth of jobs, promotion of commerce, improving the quality of life of the American people, building the infrastructure of America - and that means roads and mass transit and all the rest of that. Cut that in half. Oh, and by the way, give a tax break of over $300,000 to the wealthiest people in America. Wealthy people get off fine, middle class people pay, small businesses pay, the taxpayer pays, job seekers and workers pay the price.
“So, I think it's really important to understand what the bipartisan National Governors Association has said: ‘a string of short-term extensions will only increase uncertainty for state and local governments and the private sector.' And so, again, I call the House back to its bipartisanship on this legislation. The distinguished Chairman, Mr. Mica, has been part of that bipartisanship in the past. And now, they come up with a bill that the Republican Secretary of Transportation says is a job loser and is dangerous to public safety - the worst bill he's seen in his 35 years of public service. And his public service has been in this field and, again, departing from bipartisanship.
“So, I urge my colleagues to not aid and abet the Republicans, going down this path, that is not a good one, but to urge them to bring up the Senate bill, that can go to the President's desk today. Putting people back to work immediately.
“I urge my colleagues to vote ‘no.'”