Chairman Jim Inhofe Delivers Weekly Republican Address
‘The DRIVE Act is a solution, it’s the solution – a bipartisan solution. It provides the needed long-term funding certainty so that the major construction projects can get off the ground – projects that aren’t possible with short-term extensions.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In the Weekly Republican Address, Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma says that after years of unsatisfactory short-term spending bills to fund America’s roads, bridges and highways, the Senate is now considering a long-term solution that will allow states to pursue critically needed transportation projects throughout the country. With 54 percent of America’s major roads rated poor or mediocre, and one in four bridges requiring significant repair, states need the certainty that federal funds will be available to tackle long-term transportation and infrastructure projects. “With the DRIVE Act, we can rebuild Eisenhower’s vision, fight growing congestion, and maintain the mobility of good and services necessary to move our economy forward,” says Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
“Hi, I’m Senator Jim Inhofe and I have the honor of serving as the Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Passing a long-term transportation reauthorization bill has been my top priority since returning as chairman of that committee. It is one of the most important issues Congress will deal with this entire year, and why Senator Barbara Boxer and I made it the topic of our first full committee meeting, hearing in the 114th Congress.
“You see, there is no such thing as a Republican road or a Democrat road – this issue always transcends the political fights in Washington. Why? Because funding our nation’s transportation system is our constitutional responsibility. The Framers of the Constitution recognized transportation’s importance by explicitly vesting Congress with the responsibility to establish Post Roads and to regulate interstate commerce.
“Now, thanks to the vision of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the famous general, the National Highway System was created and continues to serve as the backbone to a strong national defense and economy through the movement of goods and services. This legacy system was built with a 50-year design life, now more than 60 old – and is well beyond its warranty.
“Maintaining Eisenhower’s vision of economic opportunity and strength in defense requires a continued partnership between the federal government and the states – this is the hallmark of the DRIVE Act that the Senate is considering this week. Senator Barbara Boxer is a proud liberal and I’m a proud conservative, and we came together and agreed to author the DRIVE Act. We worked for several months to ensure this would be a strong, bipartisan bill, and it passed out of our committee unanimously on June 24th.
“The DRIVE Act has several key components that position America’s transportation systems and support our growing economy. It increases investment in transportation by three percent over the next six years and provides long-term funding certainty.
“We also streamline regulations, enforce new transparency measures so taxpayers would know how their money is being spent, and advance research and innovation in transportation so that we can have a globally competitive infrastructure system here in the United States.
“The DRIVE Act is about putting America back on the map as the place to do business. Unfortunately, since 2009, Congress has passed 33 short term patches. This has resulted in highway dollars being spent only on maintenance and basic tasks – like filling potholes. We have slowed building projects and stopped modernizing. Today, 54 percent of America’s major roads are rated poor or mediocre. 1 in 4 bridges require significant repair or are unable to keep up with current traffic. The 20,000 miles of our highways slow below the posted speed limits, that’s significant. Due to congestion, 5.5 billion hours and 3 billion gallons of gas were wasted in traffic in 2011. Without a long-term solution, these numbers will continue to skyrocket.
“But we have a new Congress and new Republican majority, and it is time for this trend to end.
“The DRIVE Act is a solution, it’s the solution – a bipartisan solution. It provides the needed long-term funding certainty so that the major construction projects can get off the ground – projects that aren’t possible with short-term extensions. And it will signal to job creators that America’s economy is not only going to grow, but it is going to be sustained because the infrastructure will exist to support it.
“With the DRIVE Act, we can rebuild Eisenhower’s vision, fight growing congestion, and maintain the mobility of good and services necessary to move our economy forward.
“The bottom line is this – there is a great old document no one reads anymore. It’s called the Constitution and the Constitution tells us – the House and the Senate – what we are supposed to do. We are to defend America and build roads and bridges. This is exactly what Congress will accomplish by passing the DRIVE Act.”