Congressman Jim McGovern

Representing the 2nd District of Massachussetts
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McGovern: Highway Bill Will Boost Economy, Create Jobs, Help Repair America’s Roads and Bridges

Nov 3, 2015
Press Release
Some Massachusetts Roads and Bridges in Need of Repair are Older than Most States

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim McGovern (MA-02), a senior House Democrat and the second-highest ranking Democrat on the House Rules Committee, led the floor debate for House Democrats on H.R. 22, the Highway Bill Reauthorization/Export-Import Bank Reauthorization.

McGovern praised the investment the bill makes in the economy by funding much-needed repairs of roads and bridges across the country and supporting jobs in construction and manufacturing – industries that were hardest hit by the Great Recession. McGovern also urged the defeat of an amendment to allow bigger trucks on the road, citing close to 4,000 deaths every year in bigger truck crashes. Watch video of the speech here.

Excerpts from Congressman McGovern’s floor speech are below:

“We need a long-term surface transportation authorization bill. States need to be able to count on federal funding for more than a month at a time. Large-scale infrastructure projects take years to complete. States need certainty and this bill is a step forward in that direction.

“Our roads and bridges are already in need of massive repairs. I tell people all the time there are bridges in Massachusetts that are older than most of your states.

“Not only will a long term highway bill help our economy but it will create and sustain thousands of American jobs particularly in the construction and manufacturing industries that were hardest hit by the Great Recession.

On the Ribble amendment permitting states to allow bigger and heavier trucks on Interstate highways, McGovern said it would “seriously threaten this carefully crafted compromise bill.”

“Despite what some in the trucking industry might have you believe, bigger trucks have never resulted in fewer trucks on our roads. Since 1982, when Congress last increased the gross vehicle weight limit, truck registrations have increased 90 percent.

“Bigger truck crashes kill nearly 4,000 people every year and the reality is that most of those fatalities are those in passenger vehicles not the trucker. Big trucks only pay a fraction of the true cost of the wear and tear they cause on our roads and bridges. States budgets are stretched to the brink as it is and can’t afford to make up for the multi-billion dollar underpayments. 

“Loading this bill up with all kinds of exemptions to truck size and weight laws would be a huge mistake and would jeopardize passage of the underlying bill. I urge my colleagues to reject the Ribble amendment and any others to increase truck size and weights.”

The full text of Congressman McGovern’s speech is below. Watch video of the speech here.

As Prepared For Delivery:

“Today’s rule provides for consideration of the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act – a six year highway bill.  And after thirty-five short term extensions, this is a welcome step toward providing the kind of certainty our state and local officials need.

“Of the 284 amendments submitted to the Rules Committee for consideration, this rule makes in order 29.  We expect the Committee to meet later today to consider the remaining amendments.

“I want to thank Chairman Shuster and Ranking Member DeFazio and Subcommittee on Highways and Transit Chairman Sam Graves and Ranking Member Eleanor Holmes Norton for all of their hard work to get us to this point.

“This isn’t the highway bill that I would have written but the bottom line is that we need a long-term surface transportation authorization bill. States need to be able to count on federal funding for more than a month at a time. Large-scale infrastructure projects take years to complete. States need certainty and this bill is a step forward in that direction.

“Our roads and bridges are already in need of massive repairs. I tell people all the time there are bridges in Massachusetts that are older than most of your states.

“The underlying bill provides $325 billion in contract authority from the Highway Trust Fund over six years for highway, transit, and safety programs. It would allow for automatic adjustments if more money comes into the Highway Trust Fund.

“And I’m pleased to see that among the provisions in the bill is a reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, which is the same language the House passed with strong bipartisan support last week. We should vote against any amendment to jeopardize this provision.

“Not only will a long term highway bill help our economy but it will create and sustain thousands of American jobs particularly in the construction and manufacturing industries that were hardest hit by the Great Recession.

“But, in all candor, I can’t say I’m enamored with everything in this bill. I wish that it provided more robust funding levels.

“I’m sorry to see that we’re continuing to use guarantee fees as a pay-for on an unrelated transportation bill. G-fees should be used to protect taxpayers from mortgage losses, not as an offset on a highway bill.

“I also have serious concerns about the use of private debt collection as an offset in the bill.  Instead of raising money, it is likely that the use of private debt collection agencies would result in the Federal government losing revenue.

“Moving forward, I would strongly caution against loading this bill up with controversial provisions. This rule makes in order an amendment by Congressman Ribble of Wisconsin to permit states to allow bigger and heavier trucks on our Interstate highways and I understand that several other amendments have been offered to increase truck size and weights. I think passing these kinds of amendments is one of the most dangerous things we can do and I believe it would seriously threaten this carefully crafted compromise bill.

“Despite what some in the trucking industry might have you believe, bigger trucks have never resulted in fewer trucks on our roads. Since 1982, when Congress last increased the gross vehicle weight limit, truck registrations have increased 90 percent.

“Some say – if we allow bigger, heavier trucks on our federal Interstate highway system, we can alleviate their presence on local roads. That’s a false argument because trucks still need to make deliveries and pick-ups at warehouses and businesses and local roads are the way they get there. So all the Ribble amendment would do is make more of our roads less safe.

“Bigger truck crashes kill nearly 4,000 people every year and the reality is that most of those fatalities are those in passenger vehicles not the trucker.

“Big trucks only pay a fraction of the true cost of the wear and tear they cause on our roads and bridges. States budgets are stretched to the brink as it is and can’t afford to make up for the multi-billion dollar underpayments. 

“Americans have said loud and clear, over and over again, that they don’t want bigger trucks. A January 2015 nationwide survey by Harper Poll found that 76 percent of respondents oppose longer heavier trucks and a May 2013 public opinion poll by Lake Research Partners found that 68 percent of Americans opposed heavier trucks.

“And, let me remind my colleagues, that in MAP-21, the most recent long-term highway bill, Congress directed the Department of Transportation to conduct a comprehensive study on truck size and weight laws. After two years of careful study, DOT concluded that the current data limitations were so profound that no changes in truck size and weight laws and regulations should be considered until these data limitations could be overcome.

“Loading this bill up with all kinds of exemptions to truck size and weight laws would be a huge mistake and would jeopardize passage of the underlying bill. I urge my colleagues to reject the Ribble amendment and any others to increase truck size and weights.”

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