|1:54 PM EDT||
Jim Costa, D-CA 20th
Mr. COSTA. I rise in opposition to the underlying bill and to a provision of this bill that, I think, is highway robbery, plain and simple.
Once again, my friends on the other side of the aisle are ignoring an opportunity to invest in their infrastructure, to create more jobs and to build a modern, 21st century system of transportation that utilizes our highways, our air transportation system and, yes, our rail in the state of high-speed rail systems that are part of America's future.
I support providing, like I think the majority of my colleagues do, the funding for the Mississippi Delta--we should and we must--as we have with every area that has experienced a disaster over the history of our Nation, but there are other ways to provide that funding.
In May of this year, Secretary Ray LaHood--a colleague of ours, a Republican--announced that $368 million of our tax dollars would go to California to invest in the San Joaquin Valley in order to construct the Nation's first true state-of-the-art high-speed rail system. It's a system in California that the people support. In 2008, Californians went to the polls, and voted overwhelmingly for a $9 billion bond measure to construct high-speed rail that will create hundreds of thousands of jobs throughout
the State and that will create economic opportunities not only in the San Joaquin Valley but throughout California.
But this provision steals that money and the promise of new jobs right from the hands of the people it is intended to benefit.
The Great Recession hit my region of the country probably harder than almost any other place in America, with double-digit unemployment levels that exceed 20 percent. Too many people can't find jobs to keep roofs over their heads or can afford decent, healthy diets; but at a time when everyone in Washington says we should be focused [Page: H5042]
on job creation, this provision is the only one I can see that's about job destruction.
High-speed rail will create over 600,000 construction jobs over the life of the project over the next 10 to 20 years in California, but this provision says ``no.''
High-speed rail will create 450,000 permanent jobs over the next 25 years, but this provision just says ``no.''
High-speed rail will spur economic development by connecting our San Joaquin Valley with the Bay Area and southern California to create a system that will provide high-speed rail for 80 percent of California's population, but this provision just says ``no.''
High-speed rail will improve our air quality and will reduce traffic that clogs our freeways. Of course, this provision just says ``no.''
High-speed rail has proven to be a smart investment over the five decades that it has been developed in Europe and Asia, but this provision says ``no'' to America and ``no'' to California.
High-speed rail will ensure that California is competitive well into the 21st century, but this would attempt to block that area to move into the next phase of a 21st century system of transportation.
The people of California want high-speed rail--they voted for it and the jobs that it will create--but this provision, of course, just says ``no.''
Now, we've talked about our current financial situation. These are difficult times for America. There is no doubt about that. We must focus on our deficit, and we must come together in a bipartisan fashion. Yet I submit to any of you to tell me that we have a more difficult time today than we had in the 1860s, when our Nation was being torn apart by the Civil War--when inflation was running rampant, when deficit spending made our situation today look tame by comparison, when we had the first
issue of paper money, and when a lot of people doubted the credibility of that paper currency.
Yet we had a great Republican President, the Emancipator, during that time in our Nation's history when our country was being torn apart--who had boldness and a vision and who had decided we were going to build a railroad across the country and invest in our Nation even though we were in that Civil War. That's what he did.
So this provision attempts to take on an effort, notwithstanding the difficult financial challenges that we have, to in essence say what President Lincoln said in the 1860s: We can do better. We can build a transcontinental railroad.
President Obama believes we can get ourselves out of this financial situation by working together and, at the same time, by investing in our Nation's infrastructure, just as President Eisenhower did in the 1950s when he decided to embark upon the effort to build interstate freeway transportation that we all benefit from today.
This provision was slipped into law. So, ladies and gentlemen, I ask that we defeat this provision and that we keep our faith to the voters of California.
I yield back the balance of my time.