Loebsack Applauds Passage of Five-Year Highway BillWritten by Theresa Rose on December 4, 2015
Legislation also reverses devastating cuts to crop insurance; reauthorizes job creating Export-Import Bank
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack today voted in favor of the conference report on Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. This measure reauthorizes highway, bridge, transportation safety, and public transit projects for the next five years and provides $281 billion in guaranteed funding. Also included in the conference report is a fix to the devastating cuts to the crop insurance program, which were included in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 that passed earlier this year. Loebsack helped lead the fight to restore these cuts since they were originally proposed.
“I am pleased that Congress could come together in a bipartisan fashion to pass a long-term highway reauthorization bill today,” said Loebsack. “For too long, Congress has passed one short-term extension after another, leaving state and local governments in limbo and preventing many transportation projects from being built. By providing guaranteed funding for the next five years, this measure will help create jobs in Iowa and give communities the certainty needed to invest in necessary infrastructure improvements.”
“Earlier this year, in a misguided and potentially devastating attempt, Congress tried to balance the budget on the backs of America’s farmers and ranchers by cutting the crop insurance program. I strongly opposed this move and was pleased to help lead the fight to reverse these cuts.”
The conference report includes a number of key transportation provisions, including:
· Loebsack’s amendment to create a nationwide $1.5 billion grant program to update aging buses and bus facilities. The Bus and Bus Facilities Competitive Grant Program gives all 50 states the ability to compete for limited bus funding based on the merits of the project not just geographic location.
· Injecting $3.7 billion over five years into bus funding – a 75 percent increase over current levels. This will reduce traffic congestion, by providing more public transportation options.
· Increasing American manufacturing jobs by strengthening Buy America requirements.
· Boosting commerce and strengthening our economic competitiveness by providing dedicated funding specifically for freight projects, including freight rail, for the first time.
· Authorizing $10.2 billion for intercity passenger rail investment, including Amtrak, while providing $199 million in guaranteed funding to help commuter railroads implement Positive Train Control systems.
The measure also reauthorizes the critically important Export-Import Bank for four years, which helps American workers and businesses compete in the global economy.
“I am also very pleased to be voting today to reauthorize the job-creating Export-Import Bank,” Loebsack said. “For more than eight decades, the Export-Import Bank has helped level the playing field for American workers and businesses, big and small, to compete in the global economy. The Bank has created and supported hundreds of thousands of jobs over the years, all at no cost to taxpayers.”