September 8, 2011
"I thank the Chairman for yielding, and I congratulate him on drafting the FY12 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriation Bill. Mr. Latham, Mr. Olver and staff on both sides have worked tirelessly to bring this important legislation before the subcommittee today.
"As I heard across my Appalachian district during our recent work period, the American people are crying out for jobs. Not a single new net job was created in the month of August, and unemployment still hovers over 9%. In Kentucky, the message is clear – the overspending, overtaxing, and over-regulating has to stop if we’re to grow our economy and put our people back to work.
"The bill before us today is yet another example our commitment to return our government to some semblance of fiscal sanity by restoring responsibility, restraint and thoughtfulness to the budgeting process.
"The FY12 THUD bill contains $55.15 billion in discretionary funding – a reduction of nearly $20 billion from the President’s request and $217 million below last year’s level. The funding level is consistent with the FY12 discretionary spending total negotiated in the recent debt ceiling legislation. I’m proud that this subcommittee has made targeted and responsible cuts, rooting out extraneous, unnecessary, and duplicative programs, while prioritizing critical programs that ensure our highways keep moving, our airways remain safe, and our Nation’s most vulnerable citizens have access to critical safety nets as we approach the winter months.
"Unquestionably, the development of our Nation’s surface and air infrastructure is vital to maintaining our economic competitiveness, but one of the biggest elephants in this room is that the authorization bills for our nation’s Surface Transportation program and the Federal Aviation Administration are long overdue.
"This Committee has had to bail out our defunct Highway Trust Fund four times, spending tens of billions of dollars we simply do not have in our coffers. Without a sustainable, multi-year reauthorization, any level higher than the $27 billion in this bill would inevitably bankrupt the Highway Trust Fund again– putting the taxpayers on the hook for yet another bailout.
"Chairman Latham had a difficult decision, but this bill represents a fiscally responsible choice: We can no longer write checks we cannot cash. Until the House and the Senate Transportation Authorization Committees can come together to successfully address the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund, we simply cannot exceed anticipated revenues.
"Meanwhile, this bill fully funds the FAA’s Next Generation Air Transportation System, allowing the FAA to move forward with the next step in modernizing the nation’s air control and airport system. This project will ultimately ease congestion, shorten travel times, and help reduce delay-related costs for the millions of people who fly in U.S. airspace every year.
"While HUD sustained a significant $3 billion reduction, many of these cuts are targeted in administrative or capital accounts to streamline existing programs or eliminate ineffective, unproven "programs. These strategic reductions mean that the bill places a high priority on individuals and families receiving public assistance, so that no one will see cutbacks or terminations in services. In particular, the bill increases support for our veterans, the disabled and the elderly at a time when our economic situation puts them at even greater risk.
"It is a testament to the diligence of this subcommittee and the Chairman that such significant savings have been realized, while maintaining funding for programs and projects of vital importance to our nation and its competitiveness.
"I am pleased that we are moving through regular order on this year’s appropriations bills, upholding our commitment to the American people to reduce the size and scope of government through this process. I urge that the subcommittee to support this bill."