March 12, 1997
Return to @the Capitol.
Scrutinize the work of several major Congressional committees in online forums with the chairs and ranking members.
Begin an ongoing dialogue with twelve new members of Congress.
Follow the first year in Congress of Freshmen Reps. Kay Granger (R-TX) and Jay Johnson (D-WI)
Visit the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the Surface Subcommittee Web sites. The Democrats have also established a Committee Web site for their views.
Less than a month ago when I was sworn in, I said that I had
three goals. 1) Safety will be the number one priority of the
DOT; 2) that we will invest in our infrastructure to ensure that
America s transportation system meets the needs and desires of
the American people in the 21st century; 3) that we will use a
common-sense approach to running a department so that it works
better and costs less.
Today, as the President proposes how our country will invest in highways, transit, and surface transportation safety programs into the next century, I set all three goals in motion.
Yes, this bill will lower the toll in lives and health care costs from motor vehicle crashes; enhance America's environment; and support mobility and economic prosperity. NEXTEA increases surface transportation funding by $17 billion, or 11 percent over the $157 billion authorized by ISTEA. It increases safety programs by 25 percent, and clean air programs by 30 percent.
Yes, it will cut red tape to give states the flexibility to build projects they want, not which Washington dictates, and to build them sooner, every day and in every way, as we have done under the President's leadership in the past four years.
Yes, we will continue to build transit systems. Not since Woodrow Wilson sat in the Oval Office has as much been spent on new transit construction, and I'm very proud of that.
I want the nation to know that the almost $175 billion we will invest will support almost one million jobs, across the country, in the next six years, as we build our roads and transit systems.
Clearly these investments will make it possible to help all Americans -- whether they live in urban, rural, or suburban America. But clearly there are special people that we must help -- those who are trying to get off welfare and onto jobs. We are the to in welfare to work, and our $600 million access to jobs program will make a difference.
I'd also like to point out that as we meet the President's goal to make sure every 8-year-old must be able to read; every 12-year-old must be able to log on to the Internet; and every 18- year-old must be able to go to college -- we will go into the schools to ensure that we have the transportation professionals of the 21st century. If students take the responsibility when they're in high school, we can provide the opportunity to go further with the Garrett A. Morgan scholarship.
We developed NEXTEA by going around the country, by asking people what was good and bad about ISTEA, the previous law, and keeping the good.
I see Mayor Dale here. I remember when we went to Chicago, to hear what those in the heartland had to say. He stressed the need to continue mass transit funding. He said these systems must be considered national -- not just local -- assets. We listened, and learned from him. And we listened and learned from Mark Schwartz, from Oklahoma City, who said preserving our investments in cleaning the air and solving the congestion problems were his priorities, and NEXTEA supports those efforts.
In NEXTEA, we've tried to be fair to all states. Forty-nine states will receive more dollars than they did under ISTEA. The formulas used to appropriate funds have been up-dated and make use of current data.
Soon, we plan to send up additional legislation on Amtrak and safety. And I plan to visit our friends on Capitol Hill, to make this a bi-partisan bill. In 1991, when a Democratic Congress and a Republican President passed ISTEA, they rocked the boat.
The debate on NEXTEA will be different. I hope it's not solely about donors and donees, because NEXTEA builds more than roads and bridges.
I hope the debate is whether this is the transportation bill that will build a nation, a nation for the 21st century that can compete in a global economy.
From George Washington, to Jefferson, to Lincoln, to Wilson, to Roosevelt, to Eisenhower -- our nation has always recognized that transportation is about the unity of a diverse nation and a diverse people. I look forward to helping President Clinton and this Congress carry that tradition into the 21st century.