Menendez: We Must Pass Transportation Bill Quickly

Menendez: We Must Pass Transportation Bill Quickly

Video of Senator Menendez’s remarks in Transportation Conference Committee Opening Meeting:

Washington -Today, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, a member of the Surface Transportation Conference Committee, participated and offered remarks in the opening meeting of the conference. Menendez stressed the importance of working in a bipartisan manner to quickly pass legislation that is crucial for the national and local economy. For New Jersey, the bill will provide a historic level of transit formula funding -- $63 million more per year - that Menendez was instrumental in securing.Below is a video and transcript of Senator Menendez's remarks as delivered.

Senator Menendez is Chair of the Banking Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development which has jurisdiction over public transportation. The Surface Transportation Conference Committee, a group of 47 members of Congress in charge of negotiating the final surface transportation bill, met publicly for the first time this afternoon to attempt to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate transportation bills.

Video of Senator Menendez's remarks in the Transportation Conference Committee opening meeting:

Full text of remarks as delivered:

"Thank you Madame Chair and distinguished members of the conference.

You know, we need to pass this bill quickly in order to generate and protect two to three million jobs. We need to pass this bill quickly to boost our economy in the short term and protect an essential asset for every business in America in the longer term. And from my perspective, we also need a bill that will protect dedicated transit funding.

By way of example - this is true for hundreds of millions people across the country - NJ transit hosts 250 million passenger trips each year and therefore its essential to my state's economy, but it's also true for many states throughout the country. And we worked hard, I worked hard with Senators Johnson and Shelby to develop a robust transit title that passed unanimously in the Banking Committee, and we'll work to protect that in this conference.

But we all know that the Senate transportation bill, by virtue of what happened both in Committees and on the floors, is supported by Senate Democrats, Senate Republicans, and House Democrats largely speaking. So the only question is whether our House Republican colleagues will also work in a constructive way to pass a bill.

After years of work, we were on the cusp of giving our states, our businesses, and our workers the certainty the need to make infrastructure investments. And that certainty is critical in terms of unlocking the type of investments over the longer term that will create greater results. If we do not pass a bill, we risk bankrupting the trust fund, and seeing transportation funding coming to a screeching halt.

Given these high stakes, I would think no one in this room should be willing to put politics before the retention and creation of two to three million jobs, put politics before the needs of our business community, and put politics before efforts to revitalize our economy. In other words, it's time to start negotiating from the Senate bill that had bipartisan support and has a total element of all of these titles in good faith. I hope that means divisive environmental issues off of this bill, that's what we did in the Senate process to get a widely bipartisan bill through the chamber, and that should serve as a model as to how we move forward.

The question is, do we work in a bipartisan manner, and pass a transportation bill as we did on the Senate or do we simply try to shift blame for the bill's failure. I hope we can make the right decision that will help America grow, help our economy grow, get people back to work, and lay the foundation for long term growth."