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(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) delivered the following opening statement at the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee Markup of the Fiscal Year 2010 Appropriations Bill:

“The Subcommittee will come to order. 

“Today we will be discussing the Fiscal Year 2010 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill.

“I want to thank my Ranking Member, Senator Bond for all his hard work and cooperation throughout the process. 

“And I want to thank the entire Subcommittee. All of your hard work and ideas are reflected in the bill we have before us today.

“But before talking about this bill, I’d like to take a minute to talk about the Highway Trust Fund. 

“It’s already been widely reported that the Trust Fund is expected to go bankrupt before the Senate returns in September.  But we don’t know how we’re going to fix it yet.

“Let’s be clear: the bill before us assumes that the Highway Trust Fund will be solvent and the transportation programs will be extended throughout fiscal year 2010.

“While I know that it is difficult to reach consensus on how best to remedy this looming crisis, I hope that moving forward we can all agree that we need stability for the transportation programs that commuters and communities across the country rely on.

“American families face many challenges in these troubling economic times.

“Across the country, hardworking Americans are losing their jobs—they are losing their homes.

“All of us here in this room are working to help our country recover from this recession and reinvest in our economy.

“Congress passed a recovery package that is already creating jobs, rebuilding infrastructure, and paving a strong foundation for long-term economic growth.

“It is a good start—and this bill builds on and strengthens that effort.

“It makes strong and serious investments in our transportation infrastructure.

And it ensures that the federal agencies that so many communities count on have the resources they need to keep commuters safe, and keep communities moving and prospering.

“This bill provides $15.6 billion to the Federal Aviation Administration, including$2.5 million to hire additional air traffic controllers, $18.5 million to hire more safety inspectors, and $3.5 billion for investments to improve airports across the country.

“It provides $43.4 billion for the Federal Highway Administration.

“And it provides $11.1 billion for the Federal Transit Administration, including $100 million to help transit agencies reduce their energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions and $150 million for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to ensure that tragedies like the one we saw last month never happen again.

“This bill also provides $3 billion for the Federal Railroad Administration, including $1.2 billion for intercity and high-speed rail—which helps improve these systems, expand options to commuters, reduce congestion on our roads, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“And it provides $375 million to support programs under the Maritime Administration, including $174 million for the critical Maritime Security Program and $17.5 million to help small shipyards make investments that will help sustain jobs and keep this important industry competitive and strong.

“In addition to these important investments in transportation, the bill that we have before us today represents a firm commitment to providing critical housing and supportive services to families most affected by the economic crisis.

“This bill provides $100 million for Housing Counseling to help families make responsible decisions when purchasing a home, to avoid scams and aggressive lending tactics—and to help families facing foreclosure stay in their homes.

“It also ensures that the most vulnerable among us are not left out in the cold—and provides $785 million for housing for the elderly, and $265 million for housing for disabled Americans.

“Our bill provides over $18 billion for Section 8 rental assistance—which helps so many families stay in their homes and out of shelters.

“And for those Americans who are facing even tougher times, this bill provides $1.87 billion for homeless assistance grants.

“This bill also focuses on strengthening the community.

“It provides almost $4 billion for the Community Development Block Grant program, and $150 million for a new Sustainable Communities initiative within HUD to help communities better coordinate and integrate their transportation and housing planning.

“This bill will help our country recover from this recession—and it will help our communities reinvest in our infrastructure.

“It is a good bill—it helps commuters, helps homeowners, and helps our economy.

“It provides assistance to those who need it most, and it directs resources in a responsible and fiscally prudent way.

“I thank all of my colleagues once again for their work on this bill, and I urge you all to vote to pass it out of this subcommittee today.

“With that, I turn it over to my Ranking Member and partner in many of these efforts, Senator Bond.”