Subcommittee Chairman Latham Opening Statement on FY 2013 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Bill for Subcommittee Mark Up

Jun 7, 2012

Today we are meeting to consider the fiscal year 2013 transportation and housing and urban development bill.

Before we get to the bill, I want to congratulate my colleague and the ranking member of this subcommittee, John Olver, for his years of service.  As many of you know, Mr. Olver is retiring at the end of this Congress, and I have to say, this Subcommittee and the institution will be a lesser place without him.  His attention to detail, his quest for knowledge about the programs and stakeholders of this bill, and his kindness and compassion are to be admired.  Plus, his inability to complete a question in a five minute hearing round has made us all the wiser about the programs in question.  It is a pleasure working with you, and thank you.

I’d also like to thank each of the Members of this Subcommittee for your attendance at the hearings and your input.  Your interest and questions have helped craft the bill you see before you.

Finally, I’d like to thank the budget offices of the departments and agencies funded in this bill.  Your timely responses to our questions have proved invaluable in crafting the details of this proposal.

Returning to the THUD bill, the bill before the Subcommittee today is a balanced proposal on how to allocate $51.6 billion among the various Federal housing and transportation programs across our nation.  Continuing our commitment to reduce government spending, our allocation is almost $4 billion below fiscal year 2012, and almost $2 billion below the President’s request. The bill also reflects the budget resolution passed by the House.

 I know there’s a lot of angst surrounding the ongoing conference on the transportation bill.  We are all hearing from our states, from our constituents, and from businesses and industries across the country. We need a highway and transit bill.  I am hopeful that the authorizing committees of jurisdiction will complete their work in a timely and common sense manner.  Our appropriations bill proposes to fund the highway and transit programs consistent with last year’s levels, but contingent upon authorization.  We will be ready to work with the authorizers’ numbers as we move to a conference on this bill. 

For those of you who feel there are places that this bill could be improved, I’d remind everyone that this is the early stage of the process.  We still have a long way to go before this bill becomes law.   

We look forward to going to Full Committee in two weeks and we hope to go to the floor later this summer, if not this month.  Further, we still need to reconcile the overall funding levels, and levels for each account, with the Senate in conference.  However, today, I would ask that subcommittee members hold their amendments until Full Committee. 

Because bills are now posted on the internet prior to the mark up, I don’t think it’s necessary for me to go through all the accounts and their funding levels.  I will say we tried to be balanced in our approach and address our nation’s most pressing housing and transportation needs.  We also did our best to refrain from bringing new authorizing provisions into this bill, especially in light of the ongoing work of both T&I and the Financial Services Committees. 

Thank you for your participation today.  I look forward to our discussion.