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Bipartisan Transportation and Housing Bill Filibustered: Murray to Continue Fighting for National, Washington State Priorities

Aug 01 2013

Jobs bill blocked by Senate Republicans despite getting 54-43 bipartisan majority

Murray: “Senate Republicans chose gridlock over jobs and obstruction over economic growth”

"MyWay or the Highway" - GOP

Washington, D.C.—Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development, released the following statement after Senate Republicans filibustered the bipartisan transportation and housing bill she wrote with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME). Despite having a bipartisan majority of the Senate supporting the bill,  it failed to get the sixty votes needed to break a Republican-led filibuster on a 54-43 vote.

“I am extremely disappointed that the Senate Republican leadership chose gridlock over jobs and obstruction over economic growth. Investing in jobs, infrastructure, and broad-based economic growth shouldn’t be a partisan issue. But by filibustering this bill, Republicans are threatening critical infrastructure and housing investments that workers, families, and communities across the country are counting on.

“I hope that the Senators who filibustered this bill will go home, talk to their constituents, and be persuaded to come back to the table and work with us to invest in jobs and the economy. I know that is what the families and communities I represent in Washington state want, and I am not going to stop fighting for it.”

The bipartisan transportation and housing bill includes $500 million in new federal funding for bridges that service crucial corridors, such as the I-5 bridge that collapsed last month in Skagit County, WA, and $550 million for the popular TIGER program which provides grants for significant projects in a variety of transportation modes, including highways and bridges, public transit, passenger and freight railroads, and port infrastructure.  It also includes $3.15 billion to support local investments in infrastructure, housing, services and economic development through the Community Development Block Grant program.

Before the Republican filibuster, Senator Murray spoke on the Senate floor urging her colleagues to allow this bill to have an up-or-down vote.

Full text of Murray’s remarks:

“Madam President, we have spent the last two weeks here on the Senate floor talking about our bipartisan transportation and housing bill.

“This is a bill that is all about creating jobs, investing in families and communities, and laying down a strong foundation for long-term and broad-based economic growth.

“This bill is not exactly the bill that I would have written on my own. I know it’s not exactly the bill that Senator Collins would have written on her own. But it is a compromise bill that reflects the deep cuts we made when we set spending levels in the Budget Control Act, as well as the best ideas—from both sides of the aisle—of ways we can improve and reform our transportation and housing investments.

“The transportation and housing investments in this bill have a direct impact on the families and communities we represent. From improving our roads to reduce traffic and help Main Street businesses. To making sure our bridges are safe, so we don’t see more collapses like the one back in my home state of Washington.  To supporting our most vulnerable families, seniors, and veterans with a roof over their heads when they need it most. To the investments in our communities that mayors across the country use to create local jobs. And so much more.

“Senator Collins and I worked together to write a bipartisan bill to invest in programs that shouldn’t be partisan and I think we succeeded. Six Republicans voted for this bill in Committee.  73 Senators voted to bring this bill to the floor for a debate. And that debate was a full and open one—with amendments and votes from Democrats and Republicans.

“I want to thank Senator Collins for her hard work on this bill. I also want to thank all of our staff on the Appropriations subcommittee, Alex Keenan, Dabney Hegg, Meaghan McCarthy, Rachel Milberg, and Dan Broder. As well as Senator Collins’ staff, Heideh Shahmoradi, Kenneth Altman, Jason Woolwine, and Rajat Mathur. All of whom worked so hard, and put in so many long hours and late nights, on this strong bipartisan bill.

“So Madam President, after two weeks of debate and discussion and a bipartisan bill before us, we are now going to move to a final vote. And I want to be clear: this bill has the support of the majority of the caucus.

“In the House of Representatives, they pulled their transportation and housing bill off the floor, the Republican leadership wouldn’t even allow a vote, because they know they didn’t have a majority. And the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee said that showed that sequestration is unworkable, and needs to be replaced.

“But here in the Senate, we have a majority. And we should move to pass this bill.

“Madam President, the only thing that can block the passage of this bill, the only way a bipartisan bill with the support of the majority could be stopped, is if Republican leaders whip their own members into filibustering a jobs and infrastructure bill many of those Republicans actually support. That’s the only way.

“So Madam President, the choice before us is clear. And I urge my colleagues to make the right one. This vote isn’t about whether or not you support this exact bill, or agree with this exact spending level. As Senator Collins has made clear again and again, you can think the spending level is too high, and still support a process in which we pass our bill in the Senate and work with the House on a compromise. And you can certainly disagree with the bill and not think it should be subjected to filibuster.

“Madam President, the bottom line is that a vote to wrap up and vote on this bill is a vote for jobs, for the economy, and for bipartisan solutions to the problems facing our nation. A vote to filibuster this bill is a vote for more gridlock, more obstruction, more partisanship, and more political games.

“When I go home to Washington state, I want to be able to tell my constituents that Democrats and Republicans worked together to solve some problems, help them, and grow the economy.

“I know there are many Democrats and Republicans here today who want to be able to say the same to their constituents. And I hope they will stand with me and Senator Collins today and vote against a filibuster of our bipartisan bill.

“Thank you. I yield the floor.”