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Reid: Finish Line in Sight on Bipartisan Transportation Jobs Bill

March 9, 2012

Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding the transportation jobs bill. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

I am please to say that Democrats and Republicans have reached an agreement to advance the transportation jobs legislation before this body.

This is a truly bipartisan bill, which will repair this nation’s dilapidated system of highways, roadways, railways and bridges.

More than 70,000 bridges in this country are in dire need of repair or replacement.

One of every five miles of American roads is not up to safety standards.

Every year, thousands of pedestrians are killed because they relied on unsafe sidewalks – or no sidewalks at all.

And every day, millions of Americans – a disproportionate number of whom are low-income, minority, disabled or elderly Americans – are forced to rely on overcrowded mass transit systems straining to meet the demands of growing ridership.

America's crumbling infrastructure is a terrible drag on our economy.

But rebuilding it will have the opposite effect. Investing in our transportation system will create or save almost 3 million American jobs.

This week I received a letter from the I Make America campaign – a group of more than 850 businesses and 20,000 individuals who support this transportation bill.

"There is no single piece of legislation now before Congress that will do more to immediately create American jobs and sharpen our global competitiveness," wrote Dennis Slater, on behalf of the I Make America, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers and their tens of thousands of employees.

Push this bill over the finish line, he wrote. Today I am satisfied to say the finish line is in sight.

This transportation jobs measure is one of the most important pieces of legislation we'll consider this year. So I am glad our two sides have found a way forward.

But even as I recognize the bipartisanship that made this progress possible, I must sound a note of caution.

Eighty-five Senators voted to begin debate on this legislation. Yet it has taken a month to begin voting on amendments.

Republican leaders have wasted weeks of the Senate's time obstructing this valuable jobs bill to extract purely political votes on completely unrelated amendments.

They wasted weeks pressing an iconic attack on women's access to health care.

So I ask my friend, the Republican Leader, this: if it takes more than a month to pass a non-controversial, bipartisan bill that has the support of 80 or 90 Senators, how can we ever expect to get anything truly challenging done?

Americans are not satisfied with this glacial pace, and neither am I.

Americans are tired of delay tactics and distractions, and so am I.

Many people across the country – and some in this Chamber – would write off the rest of this Congress. I refuse to do that.

When we complete our work on this transportation jobs bill, we must move on to postal reform and cybersecurity legislation.

We must also advance additional job creation legislation, including a bipartisan package of jobs bills that will spur the growth of small businesses.

These measures will improve innovators’ access to capital and streamline how companies sell stock.

The Senate must also take action to ease the backlog of judicial nominations. Our clogged courtrooms threaten the rights of millions of Americans to a fair and speedy trial.

But to accomplish even a fraction of our to-do list, it will take more cooperation and less conflict.

Democrats stand ready and willing to work with our Republican colleagues.

I remain hopeful that when Democrats reach across the aisle, we find willing partners on the other side.

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