2:06 PM EDT
Sheila Jackson Lee, D-TX 18th

Ms. JACKSON LEE of Texas. I thank the chairman, and I really do want to thank our appropriators. This is a tough, tough business. I certainly want to thank the ranking member whom I've had the privilege of working with and thank the chairman as well, because this is a tough dilemma that we are facing.

I think I come with a unique perspective. I live in hurricane and flood country. Houston is the site and was the recipient of hundreds of thousands of Katrina survivors coming in from New Orleans. We have faced our own ups and downs, most recently with Hurricane Ike, and I walked the beach with both former President Clinton and former President Bush when we went down to Galveston and looked at the amazing devastation.

So many of us were concerned about the tragedy in Joplin, Missouri, and other places, and then the constant flooding. I have talked to Members of Congress where there is flooding going on in their district as we speak. But here is the dilemma that we have and the reason that I rise to raise the question of the recapturing of already designated funds and to realize that these are not funds that were just sitting in a pile unused. These funds are not only already designated--I would like to say

appropriated--high-speed rail dollars but, as well, these funds will generate thousands of jobs.

As I read the amounts of moneys that were designated, $450 million were going to be utilized for necessary repairs in New Jersey. That means that my friends on the floor of the House have made a sacrifice, and I appreciate that, but high-speed rail is a valuable and necessary investment in America's future.

I truly believe that there could have been a compromise, where resources could have been used for the flooding problems in the area that my colleagues have spoken about, the needy areas, and still leave an amount that would have been shared for high-speed rail. Let's create jobs together. That is the restoration of those flood areas, and I would almost ask the question without knowing as a member of the authorizing committee for Homeland Security, what other opportunities might have been in place

to be able to utilize those dollars for the disaster that has occurred.

But I will tell you, it is no doubt as you go across Europe and see the value of high-speed rail, new technology, that America is far behind with its high-speed rail investment, the new technology, the new science, the new kinds of cars that are being produced that will create jobs, in essence putting the cars together, manufacturing the cars but then the assembling of the cars now being placed in cities around America. Those are real jobs, long-term jobs.

The decision that the administration made was a thoughtful decision. Let me thank Secretary LaHood for understanding the value of high-speed rail, and I would suggest that the proposal that we have for Texas does impact rural Texas. It is a proposal for high-speed rail from Houston to Dallas, going through our rural communities, creating the opportunities for jobs but creating the opportunities for investment in the purchase of land and the growth of business. All of that has an impact in creating


[Time: 14:10]

That's what we are all here for. We are here to be the rainy day umbrella for Americans who are in trouble, and as well we're here to create jobs, which Americans are so desperately in need of.

So I am disappointed that we didn't find the happy balance, and I believe that we could; that we couldn't measure the amount of resources that might have been able to be utilized for our friends that have just experienced a disaster and not completely gut monies that are already designated, appropriated. It's almost as if we came in and said there's a pile of cash, and I'm not going to bother to identify what it's supposed to be used for.

I would hope that there would be a method of reconsideration. These are fair gentlemen on the floor of the House. I've worked with all of my colleagues here. And I would just raise the question of why would we, in essence, zero out high-speed rail, not only for our urban centers but for our midwestern areas that are desperately in need of jobs, and for the southern areas that now are looking to the future for high-speed rail to create jobs and to create the quality, excellent, superior mobility

system that Americans deserve--not the country of America, but the people of America deserve.

I would argue vigorously for a reconsideration of the funding and the restructuring of the funding to ensure that we have high-speed rail, create jobs, and deal with our friends who are in need.