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Today, in a speech on the Senate floor, U.S. Senator Patty Murray offered the conference agreement of the Transportation funding bill before the full Senate. Shortly after Senator Murray's remarks, the transportation agreement was adopted by the full Senate 97-2. Since the House has already passed the agreement (371-11), the measure is being sent to the President for his signature.

Senator Murray's remarks follow:


Mr. President, I rise to bring before the Senate the conference report accompanying the Transportation Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2002.

This conference agreement represents many weeks of negotiations with the House and the Administration, and I am proud of the progress it will bring to our nation's transportation system.

This conference agreement has already passed the House by an overwhelming margin of 371-11.

In total, the bill includes Appropriations and obligation limitations totaling roughly $59.6 billion.

While that's about $1.5 billion more than the fiscal year 2001 level, it is approximately $400 million less than the amount passed by the Senate on August 1st.

It was very difficult to pare $400 million out of the Senate bill, but we did so while carefully looking out for the needs of all of the critical agencies within the Department of Transportation as well as the members' individual priorities.

The conference agreement provides funding levels that are equal to or higher than the operating accounts for agencies like the Coast Guard, the FAA, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Several important safety initiatives -- that were included in the Senate bill -- have been maintained, including: the hiring of new aviation safety and security inspectors, improvements to the Coast Guard's struggling search and rescue mission, and additional funding to increase seat belt use across the nation.

The bill before us also includes a full $1.25 billion in funding to launch the Transportation Security Act, which is the aviation security bill that was enacted just a few days ago.

The Act required that the revenues from its user fees be appropriated before becoming available.

The Security Act includes many strict deadlines for the improvement of our aviation security system.

And we expect the DOT to meet those deadlines.

That's why we worked hard to get the $1.25 billion in user fees into the hands of the Transportation Secretary in this bill as soon as possible -- rather than wait for the Defense Supplemental.

Mr. President, for highways, our bill includes $100 million more than the amount guaranteed under TEA-21.

The bill also fully funds the levels authorized under AIR-21 for the FAA's air traffic control improvements and airport grants.

Mr. President, when the Senate considered this bill, we spent a lot of time debating the safety of Mexican trucks entering the United States.

While the conference agreement provides the Administration flexibility in implementation, it carefully follows the safety provisions of the bill that passed the Senate in August.

The safety requirements in this bill are considerably stronger than anything the Administration had proposed, and anything that was presented to the Senate as an alternative during our debate this past summer.

Let me mention just a few of the safety provisions in the bill. Licenses will be checked for every driver transporting hazardous materials and for at least half of all other Mexican truck drivers every time they cross the border. Mexican trucks will undergo rigorous inspections before they're allowed full access to our highways, and they will be reinspected every 90 days. And trucking firms will need to demonstrate that they have a drug and alcohol testing program, proof of insurance and drivers who have clean driving records before the first truck crosses the border.

There are many people to thank for their contributions to this bill.

The former Chairman of the Subcommittee and now it's Ranking Member, Senator Shelby has been a stalwart ally and regular contributor to our efforts.

Congressman Rogers, the Chairman of the House Subcommittee is not only an outstanding Chairman, he is a true Kentucky gentlemen as well.

I also want to thank Representative Sabo of Minnesota, the Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee, whose leadership on the Mexican truck issue was essential to our getting an outstanding safety regimen in place.

As always, I want to thank Senator Byrd and Senator Stevens for their assistance throughout the process.

I also want to thank the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittee staffs -- along with some members of my personal staff who have worked a great many hours to bring together this conference agreement. Specifically, I want to recognize Peter Rogoff, Kate Hallahan, Cynthia Stowe, Angela Lee, Wally Burnett, Paul Doerrer, Candice Rogers, Rich Efford, Stephanie Gupta, Cheryle Tucker, Linda Muir, Theresa Kohler, Bev Pheto, Rick Desimone, Dale Learn, and Debbie Hersman.