|2:56 PM EDT||
Sam Johnson, R-TX 3rd
Mr. SAM JOHNSON of Texas. Madam Speaker, I rise in opposition to H.R. 6532.
Today, just 7 weeks after the House first considered this bill transferring $8 billion from the general fund to the highway trust fund, here we are, back again. I was one of 37 Members to vote against the bill when it was previously considered in the House. The bill simply kicks the can down the road just a little bit more until the highway trust fund is again broke.
Delay and bailout. Delay and bailout. This Congress is elected to run the country, yet we delay action, wring our hands, lament that there are few good options available to address the Nation's problems, then bail out programs gone broke. Our delay only makes the problem worse. Our delay only leaves us with fewer options once we are forced to act.
The bill before us today puts another temporary patch on a highway system that needs funding. Even with this $8 billion infusion of cash, the trust fund is going to go broke again before the next Congress acts to address the underlying problem.
When the House initially passed this bill on July 23, the balance of the trust fund stood at $4.2 billion. Now we learn from the Department of Transportation that in the span of just these few weeks, that balance has fallen all the way to $1.4 billion as of the beginning of this month. So today the administration has called upon the Congress to approve this $8 billion transfer and to make it effective immediately, rather than on September 30th, because the trust fund is likely to go broke sooner.
The highway funding system is based on fuel taxes that are declining at a time when the price of fuel is rising. Fewer people are driving because the cost of gas is skyrocketing.
The majority will not let us debate an energy bill. The majority Democrats will not let America work toward domestic oil and gas. Americans want, need and deserve a clear energy policy that uses American energy sources like oil and gas from offshore. Americans want, need and deserve an energy policy that develops new technologies and brings them to the market. Yet this Congress delays action and prevents debate.
If the highway bills that this Congress has passed were not larded up with thousands of earmarks, then spending from the trust fund could be better regulated to match taxes with spending. A little bit of self-control would solve this problem.
Unfortunately, the bill that will pass the House today shows no self-control. It is just another bailout.
Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.