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tv   Washington This Week  CSPAN  May 12, 2012 2:00pm-4:21pm EDT

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affairs committee chairman of the independent insurance agents and brokers of america, and as president of an insurance group. he is currently the south carolina national director for independent insurance agents and brokers of america. he is a past i want to welcome you today. you may proceed with your testimony. >> i am please to be here on behalf of the independent insurance agents and brokers of america. we commend the said committee for looking at this very important issue. i am president of carrel insurance group, an agency with 130 jewesses' it's in 12 locations, including offices in both myrtle beach and hilton
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head island -- an agency with 130 offices in 12 locations. we represent a nationwide network of more than 250,000 agents, brokers, and employees. many of these agents serve as a sales force of the nfip. it is from this vantage point that we understand the capabilities and challenges of the insurance market when it comes to ensuring flood risk. the private insurance industry has been and continues to be largely unable to underwrite flood insurance because of the catastrophic nature of these losses. therefore, the nfip is virtually the only way for people to protect against the loss of their home or business to the flood damage. prior to the introduction of the program in 1968, virtually the only financial remedy available
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to consumers after floods was federal disaster assistance. since then, the nfip has filled the private market void and created a reliable safety net for people whose properties have suffered damage. with this said, we recognize the program is far from perfect, which is made all the more clear by the devastating 2005 hurricane season. the current debt reveals some of the deficiencies of the program, and it is clear that congress should shore up its financial situation. for this reason, the big i ising courage by the legislation, the flood insurance reform and modernization act of 2011. i want to be very clear -- the big i strongly supports long- term extension of legislation. there are important reforms that must happen to the program in order for it to be put on stable footing. for many years, we've asked congress to begin phasing out subsidies found in the program.
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we are pleased that the germans legislation contains a proposal to do just that for many properties. additionally, we welcome the legislation's proposal to increase the amount fema can raise premiums in any given year. currently, fema can only raise premiums by 10% on any property. the legislation would propose to increase this to 15%, which would allow the program to become more financially sound. i would also like to comment on recent discussions aimed at finding ways to privatize the program. the big i would always prefer to utilize the private marketplace, we have yet to see that they are adding more prepared capable of underwriting flooding damage than they were in 2008. we would be happy to discuss any ideas at increasing the private market's role going forward. finally, i would like to touch
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on one of the most important things found in the reform legislation, and that is the long-term extension. as you know, for the past six years, congress has not passed a long-term extension of the program and instead has opted to pass numerous short-term extensions. this has been done mainly so that congress could continue efforts at reform legislation. while the big i fully appreciates the passage of each of the short-term extensions, it should be noted there is increasing frustration both in the marketplace and among our consumers in the program and its complete lack of stability. a five-year extension of the nfip is of more importance than i can stress. we strongly urge senate leadership to secure floor time for a full debate. in fact, as you know this week, a number of organizations from various industries are taking part in a flood the hill week to urge the senate to finally pass s 1940.
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i'm happy that the three panelists here today are part of that effort. hopefully, we can make some progress this week. i thank the committee for giving me the opportunity to express the views of the big i on this issue, and i expressed -- a look forward to answering any questions you may have feared a like to express gratitude -- you may have. and i would like to express gratitude for the agency reform legislation you have introduced. >> appreciate your testimony. the president of the national association of realtors represents 1.1 million members, is involved in all aspects of residential and commercial real estate industries. he was elected president of the florida association of realtors in 2002 and was named realtor of the year in 2003. i want to welcome you here today, and continue with your
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testimony, please. >> members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to testify. i want to reinforce the need of a five-year reauthorization of the national flood insurance program, and i would be remiss if i did not bring you salutation's from the past president of the 5000-plus realtors in louisiana who appreciate your involvement and commitment to this issue, and this is it specifically to tell you that they are very much pleased and very much committed to what you are trying to accomplish here on the hill. i am the nar president 2012 for the national association of realtors. the national association of realtors represents more than 1 million members, as you had
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mentioned, involved in all aspects of the real-estate industry. long-term reauthorization and reform of the national flood insurance program is a key priority to our members. as a matter of fact, on may 17 here in washington, d.c., we will have over 15,000 realtors at the washington monument, and one of the five key issues we will be speaking to the folks on the hill about is just this issue. entering access to affordable flood insurance is critical. it creates certainty in the real-estate market, which is required for this real estate market to recover. home prices are still enormously fragile across the united states, and more than 250,000 home sales are distressed properties. tight lending standards remain a problem, and we do not want to give a lender another excuse not to approve a loan. stoppages or shutdowns exacerbate the markets
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uncertainties. there have been 17 stoppages since 2008, twice the rate at lead the program. the national flood insurance stoppages and shutdowns have broader of occasions for the u.s. economy. nfip is essential to 500,000 home sales annually. 13,000 sales nationally can be delayed per day if we do not have this bill in progress -- intact. more than 47,000 real estate transactions were stalled in june 2010 for the 33 days that this act was not in service. over 16,000 homes and houses are in the flood plains in montana. over 660,000 homes are in the flood plains in louisiana, but more than the homes are impacted
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by this. the commercial, multi-family and refinancing -- all are impacted by the lack of or the uncertainty in the national flood insurance program. five-year national flood insurance reauthorization offers broad advantages. it is an important bipartisan win for congress, which in my humble estimation is so much needed right now. two, this has passed unanimously out of committee, and house has passed this bill by over 400 votes. crucial reforms or what with the five-year bill is not adopted, and it's a gimmick communications with communities, greater notification of floodplain mapping, reimbursement of flood map and appealed fences, streamlining of the mapping of hills process, additional time for the resolution of appeals, and
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review of flood mapping standards and procedures. the number of states that are affected are enormous. this is no longer a coastal issue. places like west virginia, tennessee, kentucky, alabama, new mexico, vermont, kansas, iowa, nebraska, missouri, utah, minnesota, wyoming, north and south dakota all have related presidential disaster declarations, and there's more. every time we slow this down, every time we create and uncertainty in this particular bill, in this particular offering, we slowed down the process of a healthy real estate recovery in this country. if there's one thing that is enormously important to this country was the economic, social, and cultural background, it is to resurgence of a strong and healthy housing market and for rural industry. i would encourage you to continue to do the good work.
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you have the national association of realtors who believe and understand your commitment. thank you very much. >> thank you very much. i cannot agree more that the real-estate industry is critical to getting our economy back on track here next, a senior advisor on wildlife policy with the nature conservancy. ms. murdock head of climate change strategies and federal hazard risk reduction, policy for the nature conservancy, has also worked in the senate for senator john kerry. welcome. you may proceed with your testimony. >> thank you, mr. chairman and members of the said committee. thank you for the opportunity to present the views of the nature conservancy on the timing and nature of reforms to the national flood insurance program. my name is sara murdoch, and
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your story senior policy adviser for the nature conservancy, which is an international nonprofit conservation organization working round the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. the nature conservancy continues to support a five-year reauthorization of the national flood insurance program through the passage of the senate banking committee's flood insurance reform legislation. we ask that this legislation be brought before the full senate for debate and consideration at the earliest opportunity. the nature conservancy is also a member of the smarter safer coalition, a diverse coalition of environmental organizations, taxpayer advocates, insurance industry representatives, and housing groups. smarter safer also strongly supports the senate banking committee's flood insurance reform. this week, we are participating in this week's flood the elective the spirit with this much diverse political support, it seems like passage of blood
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reform represents a win for all. contrary to congressional intent, the program as it currently functions is increasing risk from storms and floods to people, property, and ecosystems, and the important services that this ecosystem's provide to people. enactment of the flood insurance reform legislation will phase out subsidies that have undermined the financial stability of the program, will require be met to insure that maps are updated that accurate to the people can understand and better prepare for their risks, and will streamline and strengthen the mitigation programs to help decrease flood risk and better protect flood- exposed communities, homes, and businesses. i would like to focus the remainder of my testimony on our interest in this final provision. our support for strengthening the mitigation program. in 2011 alone, there were 58 federal flood disaster declarations, covering 33 different states, and costing $8
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billion and causing 113 deaths. both the cost and number of deaths exceeded the 30-year averages, and results from scientific studies indicate that change in climate has exacerbated and will continue to intensify extreme weather events, including flooding and coastal storms. the proposed reform legislation is the most important single step we can take towards mitigating these risks. currently, under the flood insurance program, a dangerous feedback loop is in play appeared subsidized insurance rates facility eds development in coastal zones and fresh water flood plains, which not only for its people and property of this us simultaneously facilitates the destruction and degradation of the ecosystems that provide a natural defense to people and property. the traditional approach to flood protection and river floodplain systems has been to rely on dams and levees to contain floodwaters.
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in coastal areas, it has been to build seawalls, bald heads, and other infrastructure. whatever structure plays and a born role in helping secure our communities, it requires substantial investments for but initial construction and ongoing maintenance. instead of relying solely on a great infrastructure, an alternative approach involves integrating the use of natural infrastructure or so-called green infrastructure, with building infrastructure. this specifically involves maintaining and restoring the connectivity of reverse and considering and restoring cultural -- coastal natural infrastructure. in addition to flood controlled benefits provided, these ecosystems provide many services that support and protect humans and nature, such as building pollutants, erosion protection, production of fish and selfish, and continued agriculture production. the nature conservancy is working with the rest partners
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across the country to implement floodplain restoration projects, and along the east and gulf coast -- louisiana in particular -- we are building oyster reefs as a way of protecting against floods. due to our understanding of the benefits of investments and mitigating efforts, we stand ready to work with the math and members of congress to strengthen this aspect of the flood insurance program. thank you for the opportunity to present the nature conservancy's recommendations on the need to pass the senate's five-year reauthorization of the flood insurance program. >> thank you. appreciate your testimony, as i do with the whole panel. we will start with the questions now. before i start, i want to thank each of you for your commitment to a long-term reauthorization. i very much appreciate it. i think the clerk put on seven minutes. we will probably have more than one round, would be my guest --
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my guess. i want to start with the most pressing issue, the danger of the labs in the program. i understand it might be different today. the short-term extension has cleared my side of the aisle. i did not know if it has cleared yours on not, but we're working to get to be tried to get this done. in some cases, i would rather just see us get this done rather than deal with the extension, and i think that is what senator bitter talked about -- senator vitter talked about. you all spoke of consequences which could be pretty severe if the program does lapse again, so what i would like to do from each of your different perspectives, describe the most damaging consequences of failing to extend this program, and at what point prior to the expiration do carriers and agents and realtors and
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homeowners need to start preparing for a potential lapse? go ahead. >> while the costs of the labs are hard to quantify, they are very real. insurers are already in the process, another with this close to the expiration, of beginning to mail out businesses of the eminent laps of the program. the only one who wins by that maybe the u.s. postal service because they get revenue, but i know you have in dealing with that recently. those are embedded friction costs to insurers. i think it is these repetitive lapses in the program that have caused a number of major participants in the write your own program to leave in recent years. we are down to 85 at the president's in the program from 150 just a few years ago. that is giving you the indication that the frustration and friction frosts of these very complicated bridging transactions are making it not
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worth the participation from the perspective of the insurers. >> would you like to respond that? >> yes, sir. the carriers are forced to start sending of these notices. in perspective from an agency, as i mentioned from my testimony -- we have 3000 flood insurance policies. that means we will get 6000 calls from folks asking what is happening, what is going on. i would also emphasize that it is truly important to the consumers. as a matter of fact, this morning, on a cab ride over, i was forced to share a cab with five other people, do this and transportation issues, but one of the ladies had a home in charleston, south carolina, and as when i was doing here, and i explained to her, and she said, "my god, do they understand that hurricane season is june 1?" she said they get this notice is all the time, and she asked me to please tell the senate to do good work.
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the flood insurance and cannot be without it. -- they need flood insurance and cannot be without it. >> this come up with a healthy housing reconstruction market. we know every household generates one job, so even in the worst of times, we are generating about 2 million-plus jobs a year when the housing market is on track. without the national flood insurance, which affect so many homes, not just coastal states, the interior states today, and even those that have existing homes, not potential homeowners, not folks looking to either go out and sell their home or buy a new one, but those that exist have clauses in their existing mortgage that simply say if there is a lapse in insurance, the mortgage has an opportunity to be called, so even those folks do not know how at risk they might be. this is a fledgling recovery in real estate market. as important to this market as
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any other aspect, as important to the recessionary time we have had is a healthy real estate market, both from the economic standpoint for america, and from the social and cultural standpoint, and when you do anything to affect that fledgling real estate recovery, you are literally affecting the economic recovery and the social and cultural aspects. i cannot tell you how important this piece of legislation and how important your efforts are to get it extended for the five years. that is enormously important, not just to realtors, but to american homeowners. >> quick follow-up. you may not know this on a national basis, but you may know it from a southern florida bases. if this thing were to expire, what kind of impact as far as percentage of homes would it have? say, in southern florida. >> i cannot be specific about
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that, although i will get you those specific numbers -- >> i just want to get an idea. >> nationally, we were about 1300 a day, 47,000 across the board, but in florida, where we were specifically impacted because the entire state for all intents and purposes is a flood plain, it would in fact every one of those sales, and even existing mortgages. percentage wise, i would guess at least one out of every two. >> thank you very much. from the nature conservancy perspective, if we just keep doing extensions, or if it is to expire, how does that impact the mitigation efforts? them clearly, we are seeing more and more increased storms and storm damage, which is causing more and more damage, and the mitigation efforts are long-term efforts. it is not something that can happen overnight, so you need the long-term certainty of the
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program, the backing of the program, and the grants that they provide in order to really plan for and implement some of these mitigation efforts. >> thank you. >> i certainly strongly support a short-term extension if we need it, if we cannot do anything else before may 31. in fact, i think technically it is my bill, so i will certainly be trying to clear that if it is necessary. i am just concerned about two things. one, patience is running release then among some members about doing all these short-term extensions, so we may not be able to clear it. that means get unanimous consent. every senator on our side has filigreed theory the more of these band-aid extensions we do, the less patience members have because they want reform which is needed.
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secondly, a short-term extension avoids a lot of negatives, but it does not accomplish the positives that the full reauthorization does. i am for it if we could only do that between now and may 31, but you're sort also trying, as john and others are, for the full reauthorization. may 31 is three weeks and a day away. when do concrete - actions -- notices, letters, other things -- start going out compared to that of the date? is it now? >> they have already started, yes. >> could you describe some of that and when that starts? >> 60 days out from the expiration of the program, insurers are required to notify holders of policies that the
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coverage is going to be ending. then, as i say, it has a cascading -- during the lapps, there is this whole cascading series of very complicated bridging transactions that had no value to the process, but only cost to the carriers and uncertainty to the policyholders. we are in a bizarre situation where you have the national flood insurance program actively advertising the nfip on television digit increase to take a break, which is the socially responsible thing to do, and yet, everyone who has a policy knows the number of disruptions we have experienced over the last several years. we are really sending cross- signals here, and these lapses are causing companies to exit the program, and i am convinced
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that these continual lapses create such uncertainty in the policyholder that it reduces and suppresses the renewal rate. >> i assume part of what you are saying is a near whaps, a near miss is also bad. >> if you at the day before or three days before -- >> we are within the time where - activities -- negative activities are occurring, but if you can get the extension without letting it lapse -- we're talking about the least of the bad alternatives. certainly, we are in the cone of - activity, but it is not as negative as it will be if we get to may 31 and the program lapses for the third time. >> right. ok, that is all i have. thank you, mr. chairman.
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>> mr. chairman, thank you. i am not a member of the said committee, although i am in member of the full committee, and i appreciate your allowing me to join you today, if only to lend my support to see that we get this accomplished and to hear from the witnesses today so that i can have my arguments reinforced. i still remain baffled. i'm aware of a response to the letters that the two of you led to our leaders, asking that the five-year reauthorization be considered by the senate. i just do not understand why this is something that cannot be accomplished. based upon the nature of the legislation, it is important. it is of value to the country, and it has bipartisan support. every once in awhile when we have to admit that this function of this place is, this seems to me to be different example of dysfunction -- when we have to admit how dysfunctional this
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place is. i appreciate the testimony that i read and heard, expressing the value and importance of a publishing this. what mr. samson just said i had not thought about, but it does make sense to me that the ability to continue to write these policies in this uncertain environment diminishes as congress fails to act on so many occasions. i appreciate your having this hearing to highlight the importance of the legislation and i am please you would allow me to join the. >> i've got another question here. there are some that have suggested that a two-year straight extension would be better than the reform of the existing insurance program. i think senators vitter and
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moran alluded to it. we have the opportunity to put the program on more firm brown with a long-term extension. i would like, and this is basically dr. sands and or -- dr. sampson or mr. jensen or any of you -- could you discuss some areas where reform on this bill is important to the constituencies you represent? what else does it provide? >> thank you, senator. in addition to the reform, as you mentioned, there are issues with increasing maximum coverage limits. currently, the coverage limit on a home for flood loss is $250,000. that is increasingly becoming a problem and an issue as we see higher values in homes again. as well, we are looking at
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business interruption. it is important to note that there is a study called for in the bill that talks about business interruption coverage within the commercial sector. we think that is very valuable as well. >> in addition, you and heard testimony from folks that were place in areas that were not in the flood plain. some of the things that might happen would be the ability for folks not in those areas to be charged in those areas and have an opportunity to be reimbursed on an expense-basis to the nfip, which would help folks that have been either misrepresented or did not know what they were doing. >> from the country perspective,
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the number one concern is the fiscal reforms. i would not underestimate debt at all. the bill also does address the repetitive lost properties. it is essential, as the previous panelist talked about, the repetitive lost properties, where it accounts for 30% of all the claims. the reform bill does address that, and i would say that is it critical component. the increase in the amount that can be increased to work toward a sound rate, while important, what is more important is that fema has not been willing to raise the premium prices even by the amount of their currently authorized, which is 10%. even more important than raising the tax is a signal to the
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marketplace this they will actually do that in incremental steps. the longer you artificially suppressed the rates, the greater the impact will be on the consumer down the road. in addition to what is in the legislation, this committee and other committees jurisdiction, encouraging fema to use the authority they have this critically important. >> thank you. this -- in this -- miss murdock, a unit to distinguish -- the distinction between gray and green flood-related and fisher -- had infrastructure investments. could you elaborate on the difference and the relative costs of both? >> sure. when we are talking about gray, we are talking about hard
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systems like levees, dams, seawalls. what we are more focused on is implementing projects where we allow natural systems, flood plains, where plans, with stories -- oyster reefs to also perform flood mitigation services. so we are doing projects like that both in the mid part of the country with flood plain restoration, some of which involves setting back levies are enough to allow floodplains to perform their natural function. all along the gulf coast we have the goal of building 100 miles of oyster reefs along the alabama coast. the cost comparison compared to britain for structure is very new, and we are starting to work in partnership with insurance companies to really measure
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those out. we have preliminary figures, but it is very new, and i do not think it accurately yet reflects the true cost/benefit of the green against gray. >> thank you. senator wicker is coming here in just a second, and i want to make sure we get his perspective for his questions. in lieu of that, but i want to say this, first of all. he will be here momentarily. i would just like to say thank you guys for your testimony. we have you. you're good to go. get organized while i talk. i want to thank you for your testimony. senator vitter and myself, senator moran and others want to
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make sure we get this thing moving forward. i think as you do, mo, this is a critical piece of economic recovery and the longer we put this off as a missed opportunity. the coalition formed here in the work you are doing, do not underestimate it. it is critically important to push everyone that works and senate to take this bill up sooner rather than later. with that, senator wicker, comments, questions, have at it. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i have been back in my office watching the hearing while trying to get my desk cleared. i would not be surprised if other members of the committee were availing themselves of this opportunity, but i had to rush down and add my support for what you're trying to do, mr.
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chairman, and to think all the members of the panel for their excellent remarks appeared -- remarks. i guess it was the representative from the realtors -- i am not sure -- somebody made a cogent point. mr. chairman, we need a bipartisan accomplishment in this senate, and we have it within our grasp to do this on a very important issue. the american people are looking at us and they are looking to us. they expect us to go to washington and they're actually engage in accomplishments. this is an opportunity for us to do that. a good billion the house. strong support in this committee, -- bill in the house, strong support in the
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committee, and the opportunity is there. for those in leadership within the sounds of our voices, i had to rush down before we close and say piously hope we can do this. i would mention that the -- i would say absolutely hope we can do this. i would mention the committee has been generous in working with me and others on the so- called coastal act, which is a small step toward using science that is already out there to get us toward a resolution on this wind and water issue that is often a problem when a hurricane comes along. this is not just a bill for people all along the oceans and the gulf. it is for the entire united states, for the taxpayers, for heaven's sake.
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senator tester, thank you for your leadership, and that of senator vitter, and i appreciate senator moran coming on to. i do not have questions because the questions i would have guessed have been asked why was listening. thank you. let's keep this up and let's double our resolve to get an accomplishment from the taxpayers. >> thank you, senator wicker. your support in working on this bill has been critically important. you are right. it is a bipartisan wind, and it is something that we need to do that will help do a lot of good things with folks out there. and fix fiscal problems. i want to thank this panel and the previous panel for their testimony. the hearing record will remain open for seven days for
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additional comments. with that, this hearing is adjourned. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2012] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] >> the congressional directory is a complete guide to the 112th congress. you will find each member of house and senate. it lists cabinet members, supreme court justices, and the nation's governors. pick up a copy for $12.95 by .rdering online at the house is back in session
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tuesday. on the agenda, the violence against women act and setting defense policy for the next year. the house is live on c-span when it gavels in a two o'clock p.m. eastern. the senate will be in, continuing work on the export/import bank charter and considering the additional nominations appeared live coverage on c-span. republican presidential candidate mitt romney spoke to the graduating class of liberty university in virginia, speaking about the importance of faith, family values, and making morals and standards of part of their everyday life. he was introduced by the chancellor and president. this is about 20 minutes. [applause]
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>> thank you, market. liberty university is a non- profit education institution, and liberty university does not endorse candidates. the bible teaches that christians should be good citizens, and i believe that includes voting, and my father prince that christians should vote for the candidate whose positions are most closely aligned with their own, not the candidate who shares his or her theology. we are electing a commander in chief, not a pastor or a religious leader. i have a crack in here about jimmy carter that i will skip. keep going. i would like to invite governor mitt romney to the podium.
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in recognition of governor mitt romney's contribution to our nation and in acknowledgement of his camaraderie and right to preserve the values on which this nation was founded, with the power invested in me by the board of trustees at liberty university, a doctor the humanities is hereby confirmed upon governor mitt romney with the rights and privileges attaining their to. [applause] >> now, to deliver our 39th annual commencement address, i am thrilled to welcome the next president of the united states, governor mitt romney. [applause]
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>> thank you so very much. mark, thank you for the very powerful, moving, and emotional for me to a reduction. thank you for your friendship. what a great man. chester, thank you for your introduction, your support today. pastor, dr., faculty and staff, and distinguished guests, parents and friends, and graduating seniors from liberty -- [applause] >> for the graduates, of course, this moment marks a clear ending and a clear beginning. the task set before you four years ago is now completed in full. to the class of 2012, well done, and congratulations. [applause]
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>> by the way, i am told some of you may have taken a little longer than four years to complete your studies. one graduate said he completed his degree in only two terms, clinton and bush. [laughter] >> in some ways it is fitting that i share this distinction with the troop -- all of cit flight. we come to a stop. it was a comfort food, and there were days where we needed a lot of comfort. congratulations on your well- deserved honor today. [applause] >> of course, there are some people here who are even more pleased than the graduates. that would be their parents. [applause]
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[laughter] >> their years of prayers, the motion, and investment have added up to this joyful achievement, and was crowded to congressman dick armey, the american dream is not coming your own home, it is getting the kids out of the home the yuan. own.hat you arou [applause] [laughter] >> i found myself thinking about life in four year stretches, and let's say that not everyone has achieved as much in these four years as you have, but that is for another day. observations. even the job opportunities are scarce in this economy, it is not for nothing that you have spent this time preparing. jerry falwell senior observe the did not determine a man's
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greatness by wealth, but rather what it takes to discourage him. america needs your talent and skill. if we take the right course, i am convinced we will see a resurgence in the american economy that will surprise the world and open new doors of opportunity for those who are prepared as you are. of course -- [applause] >> what the next four years might hold for me is yet to be determined, but i will say things are looking up and i take your kind hospitality as a sign of good things to come. [applause] >> i want you to know that i consider it a great life honor to be able to be here to address you today. your generosity of. to humbles meet -- of spirit humbles me. the welcoming is a treat to the
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example of your fonder. in his 73 years of life, dr. jerry falwell left a mark, sharing that with his good wife, which is wonderful to see today. today, we remember him as a courageous and big-hearted minister of the gospel, who never feared an argument, and never hated an adversary. jerry deserves the to be he would have treasured most as a cheerful, confident, the champion for christ. i will always remember his cheerful good humor and selflessness. several years ago, as mark described, in my home, my wife and i were posing for a picture together. we wanted him to be in the center. he insisted the ann be in the middle, and he explained by pointing to me had and themselves -- between me and
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then himself he said ecb, christ died between two seeds. -- thieves. the most confident step he took was opening the door to this university, believing that liberty would become one of the most respected universities in the world. he believed year after year students would be drawn to the university. here we are, thanks to what you have game, you leave liberty with conviction and confidence as your armor. you know what you believe. you know what -- who you are, and to whom you will serve. not all colleges and still that kind of confidence. it will be among the most prized qualities for your education -- moral certainty, clear standards, and a commitment to spiritual ideals will set you apart in a world that is
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searching for meaning. that said, your bellies will receive values will not always be the object of public admiration. the more you live by your beliefs, the more you will endorse the censure of the world. christianity is not the faith of the complacent, the comfortable, were of the timid. it demands and creates heroic souls like wisely, john paul the second and billy graham's. each show in their own way the relentless and powerful influence of the message of jesus christ. they that be your guide as well. you enter a world with civilizations and economies that are far from equal. harvard university historian and devoted his lifelong study to understanding why some civilizations rise and by others falter.
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his conclusion was this -- culture makes all the difference. not natural resources, geography, but what people believe and what they value. central to america's rise to global leadership is our christian foundation. the american culture promotes personal responsibility. the dignity of work. the value of education. the merit of service. devotion to a purpose greater than self. and that the foundation, the pre-eminence of family. the power of these values, the sculptor, is evidenced by a recent brookings institution study that senator rick santorum brought to my attention. for those who graduate from high school, get a job been married before they have their first child the probability that they will be poor is 2%.
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if they are absent, 76% will be poor. culture, what you believe and how you live matters. as fundamental as these principles are, they may become a topic of debate from time to time, so if it is today with the enduring institution of marriage -- marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman. [applause] [applause] the protection of religious freedom is also a matter of
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debate. it strikes me as strange that the free exercise of religious faith is sometimes treated as a problem. something america is stuck with. instead of being blessed with. perhaps religious content subsets' the designs of those who feel that the highest wisdom and authority comes from government. but, from the beginning, this nation has rested in god, not man. [applause] religious liberty is the first freedom in our constitution. whether the causes justice for the persecuted, compassion for the needy, or mercy for the child waiting to be born, there is no greater force for good in the nation than christian conscience in action. [applause]
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religious freedom opens the door for americans that is close to many others. whether we walked through that door and what we do with our lives after is up to us. someone once observed that the great drama of christianity is not a crowd shot following the movements of collectives or nations. the drama is always personnel. individual. unfolding in one's own life. we are not alone in sensing this. men and women of every faith and good people with none at all sincerely strive to do right and lead a purpose-driven life. i can tell you this much, all that you have heard here at liberty university about trusting in god and in his purpose for each of us makes for more than a good sermon.
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it makes for a good life. so many things compete for our attention and devotion. that does not stop as you get older. we are all prone to treat the trivial things as all important. the all important things as trivial. little by little, we lose sight of the one thing that endures forever. the lord's words of bring us back to ourselves into something far greater than ourselves. what we have, what we wish we had come ambitions fulfilled. ambitions disappointed. investments won, investments lost. elections won, elections lost. each is subject to the serendipities of light.
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our relationship with our maker depends on none of that. it is entirely in our control. for he is always at the door. he knocks for us. our worldly success cannot be guaranteed, but our ability to achieve spiritual success is entirely up to us thanks to the grace of god. [applause] the best advice i can give is to give those worldly things your best, but never your old. reserve your hope for the only one who can grant it. many preachers advise the same. if you as memorably as dr.
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martin luther king jr. he said, with most of my life ahead of me, i decided to give my life to something eternal and absolute. not to these little dots that are here today and gone tomorrow but the one who is the same today and forever. [applause] the commitments that come closest to forever are those of family. my dad was the ceo, a governor, and a member of the president's cabinet. my wife asked him how what was your greatest accomplishment? without a moment's pause he said, raising our four kids. my wife and i feel the same way.
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i have never once regretted missing an opportunity so that i could be with my children and grandchildren. among the things in life that can be put off, being there when it matters most is not one of them. the home is the ultimate career. all other careers exist to support the ultimate career. promotions often marked the high points in a career. i hope i have not seen the last one of those. [laughter] sometimes, the high points come in unexpected ways. i am embarrassed to recall that when this opportunity was presented to me, i dismissed it. the winter olympics. i was busy. i was doing well. by the way, my lack of athletic prowess did not make the olympics it logical step for me. after i accepted the position,
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my son called and said, dad, i have spoken to the brothers. we saw the paper this morning. we want you to know there is not a circumstance we could have conceived of that would put you on the front page of the sports section. [laughter] the olympics were not a logical choice. but, that was one of the best and most fulfilling choices of my life. opportunities to serve in meaningful ways may come at inconvenient times. that will make them all the more precious. people of different faiths sometimes wonder where we can meet in common purpose. when there are so many differences in theology. certainly, we can begin service. in shared moral convictions about our nation, stemming from a common world view. the best case for this is always the example of christian
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men and women working and witnessing to carry god's love into every life. people like chuck colson. he recounted a story from his days after leaving prison. he was assured by people of influence that even with his record, a man with his connections and experience could still live very comfortably. they would make some calls, get him situated. set him up once again as as important. his choice at a crossroads would make him, instead, a great man. the call to service is one of the fundamental elements of our national character and culture. it has motivated every great action of conscience. sometimes, as dr. victor frankel observed, it is what live is asking of us.
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how often the answer to our own problems is to help others with theirs. in all of these things, family, faith, work, service, the choices we make as americans in other places are not even choices at all. for so many on this earth life is filled with orders, not options. right down to where they live, the work they do and how many children the state will allow them to have. all the more reason to be grateful, this and every day that we live in the united states of america, where the talent god gave us may be used in freedom. thank god for this country. [applause] and so at this great christian
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institution you've all learned a thing or two about these gifts and the good purposes they can serve. they're yours to have and yours to share. sometimes your liberty education will set you apart and always direct your path. as you now leave and make for new places near and far, i hope for each one of you that your path will be long and life will be kind. the ideals that brought you here, the wisdom you gained here and the friends you found here, may these blessings be with you always wherever you go. thank you to you all. god bless you, and god bless the united states of america. [applause]
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>> monday president obama gives the commencement address at barn nard college in new york city. we'll have his remarks live starting at 1:10 p.m. eastern on c-span. the senate negotiators met for the first time tuesday to take up a transportation funding bill for roads, bridges and railroad projects. it's a two-year, $109 billion bill approved by the senate in march. but a point of contention remains, the keystone excel pipeline. house republicans want to include a provision in the bill speeding up its approval. a portion of the pipeline has been put on hold by president obama to review its impact on the environment. this is just over 2 1/2 hours.
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>> welcome, everybody, it's been seven years since we've had such a conference, so it's an exciting time in history, and we're very pleased to have you here. as per a long-standing agreement between the house and senate, we alternate back and fort between the two bodies on taking responsibility for chairing the transportation bill conference. so i'll begin by recognizing chairman micah, who will be a key effort to complete the conference to nominate the chairman of this conference. chairman mica. >> well, thank you and good afternoon. as you mentioned, senator boxer, the house and senate alternate on chairing the conference. the last bill and conference
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was chaired by congressman don young, who's with us today as a conferee, and that was back, as you also mentioned, in june of 2005, some seven years ago. so this is a historic gathering and occasion. and now it's the turn for the senate to chair this conference in keeping with that bipartisan and bicameral tradition. it's my honor to nominate senator barbara boxer as the chairman of the conference for the surface transportation bill. is there a second? >> yes. first of all, let me say that we have worked tirelessly on this thing for a long period of time. and while barbara boxer and i -- senator boxer and i don't agree on a whole lot of things, but on this we agree on, infrastructure. we think -- and i say to all my
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conservative friends here that i've had that ranking for a long time as being always a first or second conservative member. but i also say that on issues like national security and infrastructure, i'm a big spender. that's what i think we're supposed to be doing here, and i couldn't be more pleased to have worked with senator boxer during the development of our bill, and it's a great pleasure for me to second her nomination. >> thank you. hearing no objection, then i'm pleased to hand the gavel over and congratulate senator boxer as chair of the transportation bill conference committee. >> gentlemen, thank you so much, both of you, for your warm words. i return them. and i think we will really celebrate, each and every one of us, when we get this work done, and i believe we will. so i would now like to nominate congressman mica as the vice chairman of this conference. is there objection to that? hearing none, it is so ordered, and you are now vice chairman.
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>> thank you. >> all right. now, before i begin my opening statement, i want to lay out the process we'll follow in order to get our work done. in our conference meeting today, each committee chairman will have up to five minutes to share his or her thoughts, and others will have up to three minutes. after today's meeting staff will begin working on behalf of the conferees to address all the issues of the conference. those issues include -- and i'll list them -- one, highways, bridges, roads and routes, two, finance, three, transit, four, highway safety, five, the restore act, and six, other issues such as the harbor maintenance trust fund, the keystone pipeline and cola ash. we must finish our work without delay because we must provide enough time for the conference report to pass both houses and get to the president's desk before the current extension
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expires on june 30, so we must complete the conference report by early june in order to meet this time frame. if it is necessary, we will reconvene right back here in this room at that time. without this microphone. i will begin my opening statement, followed by chairman mica. we'll go back and forth, senate, then house, chairman and ranking members, followed by all others in order of seniority. so we're going to go right down these tables. and now we could start my five minutes, please. colleagues, i trust we all know how fortunate and how blessed we are to have this opportunity to save or create three million jobs and protect thousands of businesses, as we meet the needs of america's transportation system. let me make this point, senator schumer, in particular to you
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-- this doesn't work well. there is no other group of americans that get this chance, none, nowhere does anyone else have this opportunity. failure is not an option for us, not when 70,000 of our bridges are defirst quarter, not when 50% of our roads are below standard, and not when construction businesses and workers are suffering. not when thousands of middle-class construction jobs are being lost right now due to the extension. because of these endless extensions, many states have limited the funds available to hire workers for construction projects due to funding uncertainty, costing thousands of jobs across america. right now in each of our states. what we do here today has ram anyifications for so many businesses. i met with a california oil refinery and learned that 1/3
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of their business is asphalt production, and that business is hurting them badly. in addition, i learned from the association of equipment deal thears the same uncertainty has caused construction businesses to rent equipment rather than to buy equipment. and this has depressed the business of the equipment dealer placing a further drag on the economy and increasing employment. as we work to pass a new transportation bill, here is a picture i wanted you to keep in mind. it's a super bowl stadium filled to capacity. look at it. mange 12 of these stadiums -- imagine 12 of these stadiums filled to capacity. that's how many unemployment construction workers there are today, 1.2 million. so when we start getting into arguments or battles or fights, think about those families and ink out the businesses who
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hire them. they're counting on us, and they should. look, if senator inhofe and senator boxer can agree on a bill, then we all can agree on a bill. if senator sessions and senator sanders can agree on a bill, we can all agree on a bill. if senator baucus and senator blunt can agree on a bill, we can all agree on a bill. now many pundits and experts have predicted doom and gloom when it comes to this bill. they were wrong in the past. they said it was over, it was gone, it would never happen, we'd never pass it through the senate, the house wouldn't act, we'd never be here. we're here. now the ball is in our court, those of us around this table. it is our job and we will do it. and we have the wind at our backs, because we have a senate bill that is a reform bill that received 74 votes. it protects and creates three million jobs, and one million of those came out of a program
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i worked with senator inhofe and chairman mica on, as well as mr. rahall. it's an expanded program which leverages dollars 30-1, so that's an additional million jobs. so i want you all to know from the house in particular, this is, this bill, a real reform bill. it consolidates 90 programs just in the highway part alone into 30. it eliminates earmarks. i have gives states flexibility. it establishes performance measures, accelerates project delivery that i know is so important to you, and it sets up a new freight program. the country needs us to pass a surface transportation bill so we can fix our aging infrastructure, put people back to work, boost the economy. the health of our businesses and our workers depend on it. and again, why do we have the wind at our back? look at some of the groups that are supporting us. just look at this.
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things really amazing. just a few of the 500 triple-a, afl-cio, the public transportation association, the transportation building, the civil engineers, the truckers, the general contractors, the equipment dealers, the distributors, the equipment manufacturers, the u.s. chamber of commerce, the u.s. conference of mayors. and again i say, if the afl-cio and the chamber of commerce can work together, surely we can work together here. in addition to our core mission, we have a wonderful opportunity with the restore act, the harbor maintenance trust fund, the secure rules school program. so, colleagues, i look forward to working with each and every one of you. my door is always open, and i know we can succeed and it's my honor to turn to vice chairman mica.
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>> thank you so much, chairman boxer. and thank you for working with me as we've tried to come down this long road of getting us to a conference today. as some of you may recall, we started on the house side in beckley, west virginia, with mr. rahall and his district. we went across the country to hear from the american people and a lot of stakeholders and people who don't have jobs and communities that are waiting for the congress to make a decision on infrastructure. we conducted a bipartisan, bicameral hearing, probably one of the first i recall, out in los angeles together. so i think there's a strong commitment not only from our committee, but everyone who's gathered here. now, under the other side, there were six extensions on the transportation.
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there was a shutdown when we thought mr. owner star and i were going for a six-year bill. that was not to be, and i regret that. mr. oberstar was a wonderful individual who did all he could to move this process forward, and i was saddened when the administration at that time opted actually to cut his legs out from underneath him for a short-term measure, and that's really what puts us in this place. a lot of people say this can't be done, but i've got senator rockefeller and i've got senator hutchison over there, and we had 17 extensions before i became the chair of the committee some 14 months ago. and we did an f.a.a. bill that wasn't what everybody wanted. everyone would have done it a little bit differently. but we got it done and it is the law of the land. the president signed that on the 14th. so i think this can be done,
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and i think it's important that we do get it done. there are millions and millions of americans who don't have jobs, particularly in the hard-hit construction industry. but while we all share a commitment to build our nation's infrastructure, i think we've got to really focus on what is in the transportation bill, and if it does get the job done. i think in order to achieve that goal -- and it is an important goal for people without a job or crumbling infrastructure for this country, that we include some serious reforms. you can't just continue to throw money at problems. they tried that in the stimulus bill. 2 1/2 years after they passed the stimulus bill, which was only 6% or 7% infrastructure, 50% of the money was still stuck in washington. so we heard in every one of those hearings from beckley,
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west virginia, to los angeles, the need for reforms. so i'm here today to say let's not just spend more money or throw money at problems, let's have some serious reforms that get people working, get projects moving across this country. let me set some markers out here. we're going to have to pay for this and pay for it responsibly. we're not going to raise taxes. anyone that wants to raise taxes, you're on the wrong conference committee. and i think we must not include earmarks. we did the f.a.a. bill without that. and we can't add to the federal bureaucracy. we've got to cut red tape, paperwork, and start streamlining the process to actually get things done. so that's the message i come with today. shovel ready has become a national joke. we saw that again in stimulus. i talked to any of your folks out there. they'll tell you that if the
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federal government gets involved -- i think you came to some of those hearings, some of you on this committee. they said if the federal government gets involved, the rule of thumb is the project takes two to three times as long and it costs three or four times as much. and that just is not the way to go. so we've got some programs that are broken. we need to consolidate some of the duplicative programs that we have and really roll up our sleeves and do a better job. we've got to do more with less. the american people demand it. our future for the country requires it. and we're only going to burden our children and grandchildren if we don't address again doing things in a different fashion than we've done today. so all of my colleagues -- and we've got some great other leaders. you're going to hear from senator boxer that deal with different components.
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we're all committed to work together and get it done. thank you, and i yield back. >> thank you, senator inhofe. >> thank you, madam chairman. i'll cut my remarks short because i agree with everything that's been said over here by both parties. i would only say this -- that there are people on the senate side, anyway, that said there's no way in the world you're going to get a bill in an election year, this close to an election, and we fooled them. we did. now they're saying the same thing, you'll never be able to get this done. of course, we have some contentious issues to deal with, and i think most of us certainly in this room know the cost of what it is to work on extensions. and i've said, i think, when i accepted the nomination of senator boxer that, you know, those of us who are conservatives -- and it's been my effort, because there are several house members that i
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don't know yet, that were not there when i was serving in the house, to let those conservative members know my feeling, and that is having been ranked as the most conservative many times, that the conservative thing is to pass this thing. if we operate on extensions, it cost about 35%. in other words, we're throwing away 35% of the funds that would otherwise be spent on infrastructure by not doing it. it's hard to explain to a lot of people. senator boxer talked about some of the reforms, and i won't repeat that, but leet me mention one, because this is probably the most meaningful to those of you who are the conservative members, and that is unenhansments. as you know, it's written into the law that 10% of the transportation program or 2% of the total funding has to be on -- fall into this category of inhansments that can be high wye -- highway beautification.
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a lot of us felt that's not a good program. you have to keep in mind people are out there paying the taxes at the pump. they expect that it should be going to roads and highways and bridges, construction, and not environmental enhancements. so a compromise we came up with really satisfies, i think, everyone. because in my state of oklahoma, if i don't want to spend that 2% on what they categorize as enhancements, i can use it for unfunded mandates for some of these requirements that we have out there, and that pretty much solves the problem. it gives local control, i think. a lot of people are saying, well, you ought to be really proud of the democrats and the committee in the senate, because they agreed to some things that we didn't believe, and we did the same thing. we really got together. you know, i can remember in years past, when i was on the t & i committee for eight years -- and i remember your daddy up there, who was chairing the
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thing, bud schuster, john paul hammerschmidt, norm -- i remember when norm was appointed to a position not too long ago, and i called him up and i said i want to call and congratulate you. this is the only republican who came to your fundraisers. he said it must be inhofe. i'm sure it was. that's what we had in common, that we knew what was important -- national defense and infrastructure. that's what it's all about. that's what we're supposed to be doing here and that's what we're going to be doing with this bill. so i'm anxious to get on with this thing and get it done, and i really believe -- i have every expectation that we're going to be able to do that which the vast majority of people in america want done, and that is to have a highway reauthorization bill. thank you, madam chair. >> thank you so much. representative rahall followed by senator baucus. >> thank you, chairman boxer. congratulations on your being selected chair.
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let me start by being as optimistic as i can and saying how happy i am that we are at this point. i believe it's good news that we are -- that we've come this far in the process, and i have ery deal of confidence that we will not botch this opportunity, that we will seize this opportunity to get the job done for the american people. i also want to congratulate all the new members of this conference, some eight on the majority side, on the house side. i recall when i first came here in 1977 for a freshman member to obtain a position on a conference committee was quite a feat. i was able to, one of the few freshmen in my freshman year that got on a conference committee. but here we have eight, so i congratulate each of you. i think you've broken some new ground already. now let's get on with breaking real ground for the american people. i've had the honor of serving on every conference committee for the last 20 years that's dealt with transportation. that goes back to iced tea.
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and i know how important time is. time is of the essence. those conferences all shared a common goal -- a desire to work together in a bipartisan fashion, in a bipartisan fashion to develop final legislation to create jobs and to improve our nation's transportation network. i have the greatest deal of confidence and i'm optimistic that this conference will continue that fine tradition. today we have some two million construction and manufacturing workers that are still waiting for jobs, capable workers. they're waiting for jobs, and it's past time for the congress to act. we must indeed seize this opportunity to pave the way for economic progress and job creation. the time to act is now. including today, i'm sure many of you have looked at the legislative time schedule.
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we have only 22 -- 22 legislative days in which to act before the current expiration expires on june 30 of this year. we cannot afford to waste any time. our workers are waiting, our road contractors are waiting. the american people are waiting. for too many, especially those in the northern states, the construction season has already started. the time to let contracts has passed or is expiring very soon , and we should be letting these contractors know with certainty, not at 90-day clips at a time, but for a long-term, robust extension of time. we should let them know that they can hire workers, that they can put their willing and capable workforce back to work on the ground. we must rebuild our nation. we've seen what other nations
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are doing in the way of infrastructure expending as a percentage of their gross domestic product. they're literally leaving the united states in the dust and we all know what those figures are much soirt's time that congress gets its -- so it's time that congress gets its act in gear. we cannot let our hard heads get in the way of hardhats. we must quit taking political jabs at one another and indeed, put jobs at the forefront for the american worker. so as i conclude, because i want to give everybody the chance to speak and not use all my time, i do want to say to each of you as a member of this conference committee, first, congratulations on being in such an important position, and second, let's seize this opportunity in a bipartisan fashion to do what the american people have long expected us to do, and that is to get the job done. thank you, madam chair,
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chairman boxer. >> thank you very much. senator baucus. >> thank you, madam chairman. first, thank you for your leadership. it's been stellar, as you've worked with senator inhofe. i thank you for it. i spent last week at home with the people i work for, and my montana bosses sent me back with one clear priority -- jobs. the flooded valley in northwestern montana is a tourism hub and an internet state international trade corridor. it's also home to montana's highest unemployment rate. we have low unemployment in eastern montana, very high, in double digits, in western montana. on thursday i sat down with business leaders, local officials, contractors, to discuss the bypass. what's that? it is a truck thoroughfare that allows traffic to move swiftly, and easy access for trucksing
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that support american jobs, less time for tourists sitting in their cars and more time spending money at local businesses, and dozens of construction jobs. construction season is starting. 14,000 montana jobs, 1.6 billion jobs across our country, depend on this highway bill. the bipartisan senate bill receives unanimous vote from the department of public works committee's 18 urban, western, eastern, northern, southern, progressive and conservative senators, and 75% of the full senate supported it. it provides the community's need to plan and begin construction. invest in highway jobs without adding a dime to the deficit. the official scorekeeper, the c.b.o., says it reduces the deficit. as chairman of the finance committee i worked with members of both parties to achieve three goals -- guaranteed funding through september, 2013, not add to the deficit, and keep the trust fund solvent
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moving forward. over the next two years we put $9.2 billion into the trust fund covering the cost of the bill and leaving $3.6 billion cushion. in total we put $14 billion into the highway trust fund over 10 years. this actually reduces the deficit by $10 billion over the 10-year budget window. we focused on a nexus to transportation and energy. we included an idea from republican senators to transfer the leaking underground storage tanks and 1/3 of future revenues into the trust fund. both rely on the fuel tax funding, so it made sense. we comply with the house of representatives proposed budget with its reserve funds by replenishing the general fund moved into the highway trust funds. the finance committee also paid for infrastructure programs that communities rely on that are outside of the highway trust fund, namely, secure rural schools, payment in lieu of taxes and land and water conservation fund.
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this shorter bill is what we could afford. it buys time to discuss what americans want for the 21st century and how to pay for it. significant reforms that address national priorities, like program consolidation, project delivery, data improvement, performance measures, more safety funding and a national rate network. don't leave construction jobs stuck at the yellow lightweighting for certainty to move forward. these are jobs that are needed. they are projects just like the bypass every one of our districts and states that need a green light, so i say let's get to work and pass it. >> thank you, senator. we'll go to representative camp, followed by senator hatch. >> thank you, chairman boxer. i think we can all agree that funding improvement to the nation's infrastructure is vitally important as far as economic growth and creating jobs, and because of that i believe this is an issue that can and should be addressed in a bipartisan manner.
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cities and towns depend on a strong infrastructure as a way to ensure that they can attract businesses to la indicate in their communities and create jobs. in my home state of michigan, where unemployment remains well above the national unemployment rate, having a safe and reliable transportation system can provide a strong foundation to attracting business development. however, given the current economic climate, we have to look at all spending. the highway trust fund has not been able to keep up to current levels of spending. as such, a successful report needs to include real reform. with that perspective in mind i have to be will main principles in mind. we must take a fiscally responsible route to fund and the structure improvement, and simply put, if we cannot afford it, we cannot pursue it.
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it should create more, not fewer opportunities for job creation. majorities in the house and senate believe the keystone pipeline needs to be approved. congress must act. our task is clear. we must craft meaningful reforms of the transportation program to ensure reliable transportation systems and more opportunity to find work. i'm confident if every member is committed to finding a solution, we can and will do it >> thank you parent -- do it. >> thank you. senator orrin hatch? >> i did not think anyone will contradict me to say that we
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insure a strong voice for local communities in the process. concerned'm very . those of us that have worked with the expenditures, and now it reduces our ability to think long term, undercuts' policy- making and undermines the certainty of economic needs. i am concerned that the title does not put us on a sustainable predictable path. the finance total amounts to a search under couch cushions for loose change and the approach taken to put it together will become more difficult going forward. at the finance committee markup february 7 i laid out based principles that are worth drawing from.
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they ought to pay for building and maintenance. more simply, the user pay principle must be maintained, implementing more discipline so that users of the current program did not pay for programs did not use tariffs addition to revenue and spending should line up on a year-by-year basis afghanistan we are so off track of this might take time, -- i and stand region basis. i understand we are so off track, this might take time. this ensures the taxpayer as a partner in setting transportation priorities rather than just carrying a burden placed upon it by others. i will put the rest of my statement on the record, but i want to note by strong support for the keystone a slight -- exxon pipeline -- keystone
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pipeline. there's no question it would create jobs, good paying jobs, and it would promote stable energy resources from a friendly country that wants to do business with the united states. we need to do more to develop our own energy resources. thank you to the leadership of this conference committee for the opportunity to make a statement. in closing, i want to read from the report on august 10, 1964. this report concerns the creation of a fund that receives transfers from the highway trust fund. this report reads -- this transfer from the highway trust fund will have no delay in effect whatsoever in completing the highway program. other programs are exceeding expectations, and even with proposed transfer, the highway trust fund will conclude in 1973 with a surplus of over $300 million. we look at this today and nobody
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danced did not transpire as colleagues expected. hopefully, colleagues will give the deliberations of this congress in a different light. we need to get this done, work well together, keep it within budget, and i appreciate all the work both sides have done to get us this far, but we need to get it done for the benefit or country. thank you. >> thank you, senator. representative, followed by senator johnson. >> thank you, madame chair. congratulations to you, not just for the election, but for the hard work the senate has done move in this legislation. i do not think there is any more important legislation facing the congress and the transportation bill that will renew and rebuild america. we know the facts. the transportation infrastructure is rated d by the american society of civil
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engineers, continues to deteriorate and will cost americans more than $85 billion a year and we waste more than 4.2 billion hours stuck in traffic. we have 12.5 million americans unemployed, over 10% in building trades, and for every $1 billion spent on transportation, we will create about 35,000 jobs. the jobs bill for this congress is before us and it is important to focus on the transportation- related provisions and the financing and not get bogged down on unrelated and divisive political project. the keystone pipeline and blocking the epa from protecting public health come to mind. senate bill is already a compromise. we appreciate the work you have done. you have produced a bipartisan legislation while unfortunately, the procedurally parallel house bill was never even voted on on the floor of
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the house. with that in mind i hope the congress can address the following issues of a balanced system that includes freight, transit, intermodal was and, that you preserve the amendment that insures that vocal governments have access and control over some of the transportation bill, the most popular programs -- biking, walking -- not only are they popular, they are cost- effective, create jobs. transportation alternatives create 50%-to-100% more jobs than safety projects alone. i think it is important to pass provisions. i will not successful -- suggested they are perfect were there are not friends of mine that have to significant concerns, but they will decrease delivery time, reduce red tape
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and protect the public's ability to participate in transportation decisions. in contrast, the house language that never passed the house would allow federal and state governments to build roads, rail lines, or railroad crossings without ordination with government officials, the neighborhood, or anyone living in the vicinity. no requirement for local citizens. that is a prescription for more gridlock, not west. i strongly support the senate cost-savings fix it first language that encourages states to maintain existing infrastructure. it is common sense. presence of national and regional significance, i hope it is something we can get behind including american provisions. this will help keep american spending in america.
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i strongly support the hard work done in the finance side that buys us time. it is not the long-term solution for how we are going to finance long-term rebuilding of the country, but it gives us two construction cycles, some certainty that we can work on a larger issues. i support the transit parity that has been championed by senator chuck schirmer -- chuck schumer, which insures all competing modes are treated the same, and that provisions related to bonds for private activity bonds and exempt for water project bonds are important to the partnerships that depend on constructing infrastructure. i support their inclusion. this conference gives us the opportunity for two years of
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stable transportation investments, ranging from areas of secure, rural schools, to access investment from the harbor maintenance fund. on balance, our friends in the senate have given us a solid, bipartisan framework. i can tell you, having served people in the house, there is bipartisan interest and i hope to build on it moving forward. thank you, and i yield back. >> thank you, congressman. we will hear from senator johnson now. >> chairman boxer, thank you for organizing this conference meeting. i share with you the desire to produce a strong transportation bill quickly. the senate banking committee reported the public transportation title of 21 unanimously in early february, and it is time to finish the bill. by maintaining investments in
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transportation infrastructure, it is the priority of the banking committee. i want to thank the ranking member, senator shelby, and senator menendez for their help. americans make 35 million trips on public transportation every weekday. the title increases 13 funds for public transportation agencies. this will help transit agencies address backlogs, repairs, and it will create jobs. it supports 386,000 jobs. 21 also makes long, overdue reforms like improving title safety oversight for public transportation. these safety reforms have been
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stalled for two years. we cannot let politics spoil our work to complete the final bill. in south dakota, the transportation bill will support 10,000 jobs and improve our highways and transit service. 1200 of our state bridges, one of every five, are structurally deficient. our state needs the certainty of federal funding that this bill will provide. we should not let another construction season go by with on certain federal funding. we need to work on a bipartisan basis and send the bill to the president before the current extension expires. i hope this congress will not be bogged down with controversial issues that do not relate to transportation. senator boxer and chairman mica,
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i look forward to working with you and all members of this congress. i hope we make quick progress. thank you. >> thank you, so much. representative? >> thank you, madame chair. i appreciate the opportunity to give a statement and to be part of this meeting. and the structure is important for national security and it is an opportunity for us to get something done. in january president obama said his new year's resolution was to do whatever it takes to move the economy forward. i believe this conference is an opportunity for us to do just that. to be successful we need real reform tore highway program that will make the most efficient and effective use of the taxpayer's dollar, and we need to seize the opportunity to do something good for energy security, which is so essential for economic growth. as a negotiator conditions
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include the quality program of clean air, and the vehicle safety overseen by the national highway traffic safety administration. on vehicle safety i will be focused on making sure that nhtsa has a clear focus in the ability to prioritize safety as it always has. as with any policy, overly- restrictive mandates have the potential to divert the agency from existing priorities. i am also supportive of house language insuring that dollars from the harbor means trust fund to go towards their intended purpose of maintaining the harbors. maintaining our commercial recreation harbors is essential to local growth, the infrastructure development, and countless jobs across the great lakes. these are not only my home state's most treasured national the natural resource, but one of our strongest economic --
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natural resource, but one of our strongest economic assets. tens of thousands of families depend on the harbor and deserve to know they will remain open for business. other port matters include expedited approval for the keystone pipelining in a state- based regulatory framework for the safe management, reuse, and disposal of coal-. while the connection might not seem obvious, in fact, the policies seem to make perfect sense in the context of this package. kohl -- coal ash is widely used as a component in materials such as concrete, which has a direct effect on the cost and their ability of roads and bridges. epa proposal to reclassify the says hazardous waste will make construction more expensive, it will not last as long, and
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reliability, which -- liability, which translates to cost, would be hired to everyone. this is a common-sense alternative that maintains environmental protection without sacrificing jobs or driving up prices. i would not this language passed in the house last fall by almost a two-to-one margin, including the democratic whip. likewise, the keystone xl pipeline is a logical place to include in our final agreement. after all, it is the ultimate job and infrastructure project. the keystone xl pipeline has undergone extensive environmental reviews. the state department worked with over 10 other agencies and concluded that construction and operation would have limited adverse environmental impact and the construction of keystone xl pipeline was preferred over nine building the pipeline at all.
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that is because pipelines are the safest way to transport oil and gas. they are safer than ever thinks to new requirements many of us worked together to finalize and see enacted earlier this year. transcanada is working with the state of nebraska to developing new route that avoids environmentally sensitive areas. just last week, they we submitted an application for cross-border permit approval. the time for delay is over. this is a $7 billion privately- funded project that will create and support thousands of jobs and bring tremendous energy security. he is been thoroughly reviewed and a route in nebraska is resolved with input from the state. expedited approval of the keys, the keystone pipeline has -- keystone xl pipeline has achieved backing in the house and in the senate. thank you, madame chair, and
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chairman mica. evercore to working with my colleagues to get the job done, and the yield back. >> thank you. the next to the wall are senator shelby followed by -- the next two or senator shelby fall -- followed by senator waxman get the people who i call on are not here, we will continue to go down the list. senator shelby? >> thank you. in the banking committee, chairman johnson and i have worked together to produce a bipartisan legislation that eliminates the outdated, ineffective programs, and promotes greater efficiency and effectiveness in public transportation systems across america. senate bill 1813 maintains funding for public transportation programs at $10.5 billion a year. unlike previous authorization
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bills, we were not able to provide an increase in the baseline funding. we were able to provide a substantial increase to existing programs by eliminating the bus discretionary program that previously contained earmarks totaling $984 billion. we did not just eliminate one account, we eliminated all earmarks that were previously included in the reauthorization. these reforms allowed us to provide public transportation systems with an increase in their guaranteed formula funding over the next two years. in addition, madam chairman, to providing a stable source of funding, i believe we must try to institute a system that insures greater accountability and encourages real investment in maintaining our aging public
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transportation infrastructure that everybody has been talking about. this issue, a.k.a. state of good repair is an extremely important piece of legislation. the new start process has undergone significant reforms to streamline and improve the delivery of capital investment projects. it also includes a new pilot project with a sole purpose of expediting project approval and attracting private investment. these are just a few of the provisions that i believe will improve the delivery of public transportation services. i am also pleased that the banking committee was able to work together to develop a bipartisan bill that passed the committee with unanimous support, and the senate with an overwhelming vote. madam chairman, before concluding, i also want to touch briefly on the restore act.
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the restore act which included in 1813 by an amendment on the senate floor with an overwhelming bipartisan vote. the house also included the time stamp on the restore act in its version of the bill. the restore act, just to remind all of us including myself, simply requires 80% of the clean water finance paid by companies responsible for the 2010 deep water rise in oil spills to be split among the states that were most impacted. it would protect communities, repair and protect ecosystems, revive fishing and aquaculture industries, reinvigorate the travel and tourism industry, and restore the economy of these severely damage coastal states. this region has already done
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much to help itself, and much needed assistance should allow them to achieve a fuller recovery. the restore. is not only important to the people of the gulf that i mentioned -- the restore act is not only important to the people of the gulf that i mentioned, for all of the united states. i intend to work with my colleagues that the senate-test version of re-storage is included in the final report, and chairwoman, and chairman mica thank you. >> thank you. representative waxman. >> thank you, madame chair. re-authorizing the transportation program is important across the country, revitalizing infrastructure in creating jobs. that is why it is important this conference committee worked together to finalize the report as soon as possible the seven --
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possible care the senate work together in a bipartisan magic -- matter to create a strong bill. the house, on the other hand, did not attend to craft a bipartisan bill and was not able to pass a partisan republican bill. transportation policy affects all of us, but i will limit my colleague -- comments to those provisions within my committees jurisdictions. the senate transportation bill contains safety measures that will greatly enhance the safety of the cars, trucks, and buses on our road and improve the electronics expertise of the department of transportation. mandates new safety standards to reduce the risk of sudden acceleration, as well as standards for electronic systems performance. it includes provisions to approve transparency, giving consumers important information. all of these provisions are similar to ones the energy and
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commerce committee approved in the last congress. furthermore, the senate reauthorization bill requires important new standards for child safety seats and booster seats and it includes mandates for strong motor coach safety standards that are desperately needed but have languished for years. i strongly support these provisions and urge their adoption in the conference. unfortunately, the house-passed bill includes extraneous and anti environmental provisions. the house bill contains a legislative earmark, weakening changes to the laws governing the disposal of coal ash. the president has made absolutely clear that he will not sign legislation containing a legislative earmark for the keystone pipeline.
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instead of congress pre-empting the normal the minister of review project, keystone should be treated like any other project and the decision should be made on the merits of the proposal once the reviews are completed. the coal ash is also extraneous. the epa is considering whether and how to regulate, and we should get that process continue. the legislation that passed the house would prevent epa from implementing current law to protect communities around the country, blocking epa from regulating dangerous practices like dumping high-levels -- high levels of arsenic, and mayor terry that -- mercury. baker then the same risk as the one operated by the tennessee valley authority in kingston,
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tenn., the burst in december, 2008, releasing 145 million cubic feet of toxic sludge, blanketing the emory river and surrounding lands and created site that will cost up to $1.2 billion to clean up. we should reject efforts that restrict epa's authority to deal with these real risks. there are a lot of false advertisements surrounding the debate. epa has not propose to regulate beneficial reuse. we should not stripped them of their authorities to protect public health and environment based on half truths and scare tactics. finally, the house republicans have included the amendment in this bill that he visits the national environmental
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protection policy act, and debts the portions of the clean air act responsible. this terrible policy must be rejected. this conference committee has a clear choice. we can work together in the time we have to produce a bill that will be signed by the president and keep our economy on the mend. alternatively, we can spend the coming weeks arguing over the keystone pipeline, whether we should or should not allow epa to ensure the safe disposal of coal ash, or weakening other environmental laws. it is my hope house republicans will not hold the entire country's transportation is a structure hostage over this extraneous provisions. let's not jeopardize the opportunity to create jobs. >> thank you. senator rockefeller, followed by representative. >> thank you, chairman boxer.
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i agree with what senator waxman has said, and it is almost impossible to overlook the importance of safety. we always talk about transportation in terms of bridges, and now we have the phenomenon in eastern parts of our country of natural bust -- gas trucks going over single- lane road bridges, and the catastrophe is that hand. so, safety is important. i want the money spent for jobs, transportation, bridges, and all kinds of transportation modes, but in so doing we have to be very conscious of the safety aspect. we talk about safety almost as if it was something that came along that would happen
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naturally and that is not the way it works. you have to 50 much talk in the legislation about what is it pretty much talked in legislation about what safety is going to -- pretty much talk in legislation about what safety is going to be or else it will not happen. we talk about reducing drunk driving, and that is a priority could we talk about increasing seat belt use. i could remember when i was a teenager not using a seat belt and that was pretty cool. there are still a lot of people that do not use seat belts. you have to make people do that. fines, increasing child safety. it is incredibly important. the seats children sit and are different.
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they have not changed the way they make the seats and attachments. they may not relate to the way the cars are made. these are not dramatic but they are tremendously dramatic in terms of what can happen to a child. distracted driving is a huge subject. hundreds of thousands of people are injured because of distracted driving. there are very few straight rows in west virginia. -- there are very few straight roads in west virginia. if you text for 4.6 seconds, that is covering two football fields. two football fields in west region means you are going over or cliff -- over a cliff or into a tree. that is a humorous to say but not humorous if you are a parent or suffer from that.
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our job is safety in this conference and in general. consumer protection and safety. we have defective autoparts. we dealt with that. reference was made to the speed up, that you cannot stop. i have experienced that in an american car twice. you have got to stop that stuff. people die in that stuff. that is what we go about doing. also the training. i think it was up in new york or chicago where we had the plane accident. buffalo. it turns out the pilots were tired because they come from the west coast to the east coast to get on another plane that goes to somewhere else. there were no rules or regulations that say they have
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to have a decent amount of sleep. we put that in the legislation. they have to have sleep. they have to be tested. some of this natural gas stuff, people driving 10 and 12 hours a day. there has to be a test of how other alert -- of how their alertness is. these are large trucks. there is disaster run the corner. we have a lot of smart safety improvements. i want them to be up to date. i want this bill to pass. the senate passed a very good bill. i think we got 74 votes for it. it was highly bipartisan and highly effective. i have no objective going into a conference where we have not had anything from the house side because i choose to believe we
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will reach for a better place. we will have to work hard to do it. we do not have much time. thank you. >> thank you so much, senator. >> the federal government's slow and cumbersome bureaucracy consistently gets in the way of job creation and economic growth. nowhere is that more evident than in infrastructure and energy projects where red tape amber's the ability to approve projects and get americans to work. meaningful reforms need to be made to streamline government efficiencies on projects. approving the keystone pipeline is an opportunity to address high gasoline prices, put americans to work, and reduce america's dependence on foreign oil. the president has refused to act. i believe congress must. from the perspective of the
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natural resources committee, one of the most important ongoing challenges is to reduce overlapping and costly environmental pitchfork and regulatory requirements. streamlining reviews will allow projects to move forward in a more efficient manner. it is cheaper to build a road if the federal government stops requiring more miles of paperwork than actual miles of asphalt. the streamlining reforms by chairman mica are superior to the senate. a number of things were added to the bill. among these are the 1-year extension of the payment in lieu of taxes and security rules school program. congress needs to address both of these issues. it is important to recognize one-year extensions alone are not true fixes. communities that are impacted deserve better.
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the senate also added what is teferred to as the restore oac which would direct funds to gulf states affected by the oil spill. it would create new federal programs. the house resources committee has spent more time and energy on matters affecting the golf than any committee in congress. i am sympathetic to the impact of bill has had on the states. i am not sympathetic to the notion that an effort to provide support directly to the gulf states requires ballooning the federal bureaucracy with permanent spending programs. there is a provision dealing with oceans. ocean policy should not be in a highway bill. it was particularly egregious for the senate to put in a highway bill up to $1.4 billion in new automatic spending over the next 10 years to buy more land across the nation through
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the land and water conservation fund. the mandatory buying of more land is a fiscal dereliction of duty. if the government cannot afford to maintain the land it already owns, the maintenance backlog of american federal land registers in the multiple of billions of dollars. we should be addressing the backlog, not adding to it. while it does not expire until 2015, the senate bill extends it for an additional seven years. the senate's proposed highway bill does not even extend transportation funding as long as it is currently authorized. under the law, the funds come from offshore drilling revenue. it is mandating in their bill over $1 billion in new automatic spending. the senate in this bill and as a body respectively has done
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nothing to expand offshore drilling or open new areas to oil and natural gas drilling. lwcf is unrelated to restore act or the highway bill with nearly three years to go until it expires. not one committee in either body has held a hearing on renewing it. there is no reason why it should be part of this conference report. with that, i yield back my time. >> thank you. we will now go to senator kay bailey hutchison. >> i want to say that you and senator inhofe have done a wonderful job on the senate side. i have worked with congressman mica and congressman rayhall on another bill that was a great accomplishment. i do think we can work this out.
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i think it is important we come to terms where everyone will know they have won something for america and the interests we all have. as senator rockefeller mentioned, we have come to a complete consensus on our committee for the five bills that are our part of this comprehensive bill. senator rockefeller went through some of those. i would like to point out a few key points. the motor coach enhanced safety act, which sponsored with senator brown, will bring an unreasonable safety standards to intercity buses. it does not deal with intracity buses or transit systems. the buses that go across state lines, particularly those hired
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by groups like church groups, have had a notoriously bad record. this cannot continue. our bill is modest. it requires seat belts to be in these buses that are offered for higher -- hire. i would think that would be a minimum. it makes it more difficult for bus companies that have terrible safety violations to reincarnate themselves to use the same defective equipment under a different name, which has been the case with some of the horrendous accidents that have killed people. i think that is a very good bill that has strong support in the senate. i hope we can work with the house to include it. the commerce title also reoffer
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rises -- also reauthorize s for two years and protect the supply chain from unnecessary disruptions and duplicative reporting. on the other title, i think the innovative financing of the infrastructure program is one of the bright parts of this bill. it will expedite project delivery. it brings in the private sector and the state. it is also keeping the states with the decision making to enter into these projects. i think that is one of the great parts of this bill. we also dealt with the harbor maintenance fund, which is a big priority for all of us that have waterborne transportation, whether it is the oceans or the
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gulf of mexico. i hope we will keep that fund where it belongs, it is a fee that should go back into harbor maintenance and not be put other places in our budget. the fee is collected from the users. it should be able to help the harbors be able to maintain and dredged their own harbors. i totally support the keystone pipeline, which is the best job creator we have. it does not cost a dime of taxpayer dollars. i do hope the committee will put this in the final bill. i think it will add so much to the jobs as well as the ability to have the gas from canada rather than having to buy its more expansively from other
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countries after it is shipped across the sea. reauthorize in the secure rule schools is so important for rural texas communities with restrictive tax bases because of the federal property in their areas. these are parts i hope we will work together to put forward. thank you for calling this hearing, actually this meeting where we are all talking. i hope the talking leads to something productive. thank you. >> rep markey? >> i am honored to join chairman hastings and chairman bishop of utah of portions of h.r. 4348 and the senate amendment falling within the jurisdiction of the
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natural resources committee. funding, planning, and building roads and other transportation projects have impacts on water and air quality, seen in values, and natural and cultural assets. congress has balanced tarp transportation needs with protecting the quality of life of those living and working in areas impacted by transportation projects. this congress will have to achieve similar balance if we are to succeed in passing this legislation in a timely fashion. unfortunately, provisions included in the house bill make achieving such balance significantly more difficult. last week, trans canada reapplied for a permit for the keystone xl pipeline to carry oil derived from tar sands from alberta, canada, across the
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united states for export. the department has made it clear they are committed to a thorough review of the permit. section 204 of the house bill needlessly circumvents such a review depriving the federal government of vital information and the american people of the opportunity for input into the process. this section should not be included in the conference report. especially since the bulk of the natural gas is going to be exported out of our country anyway. allowing such a pipeline to dissect the united states comes with environmental risks, all born by the united states. to balance these risks and to make good on the repeated claims of job creation, i urge the conference to require any oil transported through the pipeline will remain in the united states for sale. if we are to bear the
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environmental burden of this project, we should read the economic benefits as well. they should be tied together in a neat package. a house legislation contains sweeping environmental waivers. that is for all transportation projects. they all have sweeping environmental waivers and exemptions. title 6 of h.r. 4348 is wrongly described as streamlining the environmental review process. in reality, these provisions stop the process in its tracks. title 6 includes arbitrary time limits that will hobble environmental reviews and exemptions and have the exemptions so broad as to make the statute meaningless. these drastic provisions are
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included despite a complete lack of evidence that environmental reviews prevent building highways or other transportation projects. in reality, the process is not a barrier. it is a shield protecting families and local communities from big government building roads without considering the impact on those living in the area. through eminent domain and other heavy handed tactics, transportation products already displays homes and communities. title 6 would remove any remaining influence local communities might have. the senate streamlining provisions are unnecessary, because they are narrower, they are less dangerous. the senate amendment makes significant investments in programs designed to protect local communities and economies. the conference report should include funding for the land and water conservation fund, secure
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rural schools, and the restore act for coastal communities including the creation of a of ocean endowment. this is vital for job creation, economic development, and even national security. unnecessary and extreme provisions should be abandoned in favor a balanced strategic investment in transportation and local communities. i look forward to working with the committee to produce a conference report that serves the interest of all the american people. >> thank you. i wanted to give the conferees a sense of how well we're doing. we're doing well. it is about one hour and 20 minutes since we started. we have an hour and a half left to get everybody into everybody sticks to the time. you have all been right to the point. you are telling us your priorities. this is very important for all of us to hear. if you really need to get some
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coffee, we have it right back there. we will not be insulted if you rise up in the middle of somebody's speech. nowhe senate side, we're down to 3 minutes per senator. the five minutes had to do with the chairman. we still have a couple of chairman on the house side to hear from. we have senator durbin for three minutes and rep hall for five minutes. senator? >> thank you. i had a great five-minute speech. it is great to be in the conference committee. i asked my staff what happened to the last public transportation bill in the house. you will remember this, congressman young. it past 412-9. this time, the house could not pass a transportation bill. how could a measure so easy to pass a few years ago be so hard now? we eliminated congressionally directed spending so members
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could pick important projects in their states eliminating 500 little engines that pulled the spill across the finish line. we had a bipartisan bill the last time it came up. this time, i am afraid it is not. that created problems. there were a lot of people in the house that wanted to add baggage to the strain. we have heard about it already. the keystone pipeline and said. we cannot criticize that amendment process in the senate because our first amendment was on family planning in the senate transportation bill. it was rejected. we cannot even agree on what we disagree on coming to the conference committee. here is what i think is obvious. look at the senators who have gone before me. consider the political spectrum they represent. they reach a bipartisan agreement. we have a bill. you have an extension of current
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law with a lot of extra writers. the bill the house could not pass managed to mobilize in my state groups that do not even want to talk to one another. the chamber of commerce, afl- cio. they all hated the bill. they said to make sure it does not pass. it hurts illinois. 15% of our federal funds for highways over the next five years, eliminates what has been set aside for mass transit for 30 years. it takes 25% out of support for amtrak. it eliminates the tiger grant programs. the list goes on. i salute my two illinois congressman who had the courage to step up and say they would not vote for the bill as well. the final point i want to make is this. this is not the first keystone pipeline. this is the second one. the first one from alberta goes down to illinois. it is in my district to the conoco refinery where they have
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invested $1 billion in receiving them and cleaning them into viable products. we did this in the ordinary course of process. now comes keystone xl and the suggestion is if we pass the bill today, gas prices will go down tomorrow. not true. last week on friday, the state of nebraska announced finally where they want to place the pipeline. the state of nebraska said keystone xl pipeline, they will need six to nine months more to permit it in the state of nebraska. those who suggest the federal government is dragging its feet do not know the facts. on coal ash, we have a cold- fired very that goes from washington to michigan and drops 500 tons of coal ash into lake michigan every year. if you would like those five. tons of coal--- if you would like those 500 tons of coal ash , please tl


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