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Vote “No” On American Energy And Infrastructure Jobs Act

The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Connolly) for 5 minutes.

Rep. Gerald E. Connolly

legislator photo

Madam Speaker, last month, the House Republican leadership commemorated Valentine's Day by planning a shotgun wedding between transportation reauthorization and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; between highway funding and Federal pension cuts. Many Members of this House spoke for and against this troubling bill, but I think it's time Congress started listening to the people.

Consider what my constituents wrote me when they asked me to oppose this transportation disinvestment plan. One concerned citizen in Vienna said:

I'm writing to urge you not to support the proposed American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act. This bill is anti-jobs, anti-business, anti-transit, and anti-environment. It slashes funding for transit, guts our Nation's environmental laws, and green-lights a set of controversial and damaging new drilling projects, including in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The director of a nonprofit in Dumfries, Virginia, worried about the utter lack of transit support in the proposed legislation, wrote:

I can tell you from firsthand experience that this proposal would have a profoundly negative impact on the ability of our clients to go about their daily lives. Many clients use public transportation to access our services, seek and hold employment, and remain independent. This legislation puts jobs and the services this agency provides to vulnerable populations at risk.

A constituent from Prince William County bemoaned the dearth of transit investments and commented:

For nearly 30 years, beginning with President Reagan, a portion of Federal motor fuels tax revenues has been dedicated to public transportation investment under Federal law. These revenues are a dependable and predictable source of funding and should remain dedicated to public transportation. The House Ways and Means plan would eliminate this reliable funding source and provides no funding for public transportation after 2016.

A senior citizen from Springfield, Virginia, worried about the impact of this legislation on alternative transportation options, said:

I strongly encourage you to vote ``no'' on H.R. 7. I am 65 years old and have spent the last 10 years of my life utilizing the paths and trails around Fairfax County and this area of the country for safe biking and exercising. Their existence has been critical to my efforts to improve my personal health. These trails cost so little compared to building highways and using automobiles and have tremendous benefits to all of us. Please do not allow this bill to halt the great progress that this country has made in its trails. Please vote ``no'' on H.R. 7.

A constituent from Gainesville, Prince William County, Virginia, where they have one of the longest daily commutes in America:

I am writing in opposition to the proposal to pay for any of H.R. 7 through cuts to Federal workers' pay and benefits. I urge you to vote against any plan that unfairly targets Federal workers and retirees to pay more for their fair share. Our nation's Federal workers are already doing their part to address America's deficit problem, which they did not cause. Their pay freeze will have contributed over $60 billion to debt reduction.

A constituent from Fairfax echoed those concerns:

Congressman Connolly, I am contacting you about H.R. 7. I'm disgusted and appalled that those in public service are being targeted yet again to fix Federal budget shortfalls they didn't cause. As a Federal employee, I'm acutely aware of the shared sacrifices Federal employees have made in these turbulent times. I appreciate your support and representation in defeating this bill.

Madam Speaker, my constituents make a compelling case. Americans are looking for a long-term solution to transportation. Like any successful relationship, this one must be balanced, with sustained investment in highways, transit, and non-motorized transportation. We can't slash funding in 45 of the 50 States, including my home State of Virginia, while eliminating all dedicated funding for transit and hope to solve our transportation problems.

I urge my Republican colleagues, junk this bill. Let's start over again and work in a bipartisan fashion for transportation in America for the benefit of all of our citizens.