Menendez: We Must Pass
Transportation Bill Quickly
May 24, 2012
U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, a member of the Surface Transportation
Conference Committee, participated and offered remarks in the opening
meeting of the conference. Menendez stressed the importance of working
in a bipartisan manner to quickly pass legislation that is crucial for
the national and local economy. For New Jersey, the bill will provide a
historic level of transit formula funding -- $63 million more per year –
that Menendez was instrumental in securing. Below is a video and
transcript of Senator Menendez’s remarks as delivered.
Senator Menendez is Chair of the Banking Subcommittee on Housing,
Transportation, and Community Development which has jurisdiction over
public transportation. The Surface Transportation Conference Committee,
a group of 47 members of Congress in charge of negotiating the final
surface transportation bill, met publicly for the first time this
afternoon to attempt to reconcile the differences between the House and
Senate transportation bills.
Full text of remarks as delivered:
“Thank you Madame Chair and distinguished members of the conference.
You know, we need to pass this bill quickly in order to generate and
protect two to three million jobs. We need to pass this bill quickly to
boost our economy in the short term and protect an essential asset for
every business in America in the longer term. And from my perspective,
we also need a bill that will protect dedicated transit funding.
By way of example – this is true for hundreds of millions people across
the country – NJ transit hosts 250 million passenger trips each year and
therefore its essential to my state’s economy, but it’s also true for
many states throughout the country. And we worked hard, I worked hard
with Senators Johnson and Shelby to develop a robust transit title that
passed unanimously in the Banking Committee, and we’ll work to protect
that in this conference.
But we all know that the Senate transportation bill, by virtue of what
happened both in Committees and on the floors, is supported by Senate
Democrats, Senate Republicans, and House Democrats largely speaking. So
the only question is whether our House Republican colleagues will also
work in a constructive way to pass a bill.
years of work, we were on the cusp of giving our states, our businesses,
and our workers the certainty the need to make infrastructure
investments. And that certainty is critical in terms of unlocking the
type of investments over the longer term that will create greater
results. If we do not pass a bill, we risk bankrupting the trust fund,
and seeing transportation funding coming to a screeching halt.
Given these high stakes, I would think no one in this room should be
willing to put politics before the retention and creation of two to
three million jobs, put politics before the needs of our business
community, and put politics before efforts to revitalize our economy. In
other words, it’s time to start negotiating from the Senate bill that
had bipartisan support and has a total element of all of these titles in
good faith. I hope that means divisive environmental issues off of this
bill, that’s what we did in the Senate process to get a widely
bipartisan bill through the chamber, and that should serve as a model as
to how we move forward.
The question is, do we work in a bipartisan manner, and pass a
transportation bill as we did on the Senate or do we simply try to shift
blame for the bill’s failure. I hope we can make the right decision that
will help America grow, help our economy grow, get people back to work,
and lay the foundation for long term growth.”