3:22 PM EDT
Earl Blumenauer, D-OR 3rd

Mr. BLUMENAUER. I appreciate the gentleman's courtesy, and I appreciate this coming forward.

It's somewhat ironic to listen to our friends on the other side of the aisle dust off the old canard about earmarks. It's a bit awkward for them, as we're finding out that Governor Palin was not just for them but aggressively lobbying for them before she was against them. And all the earmarks the gentleman talks about were under the Republican watch. They controlled the last transportation bill.

But I am pleased that the administration has had a change of heart. It's withdrawing its veto threat to ensure the fulfillment of the highway trust fund.

This is serious business, and I hope it would be one of the areas where we Republicans and Democrats could come together. Making sure that we don't lose the over $14 billion of highway, bridge and other transportation funding and hundreds of thousands of construction, engineering and design jobs that are at risk right now is absolutely essential.

I'm pleased that Congress is taking this step to make sure that we do not move in the wrong direction because communities, large and small, urban and rural, are suffering from failing infrastructure. I spent last week with my friend, Mike Simpson, in Idaho, dealing with those issues in his State, and it's nothing partisan or ideological about it. It's time for us to come forward and make this initiative.

It's so bad that the American Society of Civil Engineers has given our Nation's infrastructure overall a grade of D minus. Today the Federal Government is investing less than we have as a percent of our Gross Domestic Product than we have for 50 years. And we're falling behind our competitors around the world.

I'm hopeful that we can move forward today with this as a first step towards a comprehensive approach to deal with rebuilding and renewing America dealing with its energy needs, its water, transportation and infrastructure, so that we can make sure that all our communities are livable and our families safer, healthier and more economically secure.