(Washington, D.C.) -- Today U.S. Senator Patty Murray presented the Transportation Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2002 to the full Senate. Murray helped craft the bill as chair of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee. The bill has already passed (unanimously) both the Subcommittee and the full Appropriations Committee. Today, with this speech, Senator Murray offered the bill to the full Senate for its consideration.

Senator Murray's remarks follow:

Mr. President, I am pleased to present to the Senate the Transportation Appropriations Bill for fiscal year 2002. This bill was reported unanimously by both the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation as well as the full Appropriations Committee.

This bill has been carefully crafted with the regular input of Senator Shelby and his staff. The tradition of this Subcommittee has always been one of bipartisanship. So long as I have the privilege of Chairing this subcommittee, I intend to continue that tradition.

The bill as approved by the Appropriations Committee totals $60.1 billion in total budgetary resources. That includes obligations released from the highway and airway trust funds as well as appropriations from the general fund.

This funding level is higher than the level requested by the President. There are four reasons why this bill exceeds the President's request.

Real Funding -- Not User Fees

First, the Administration's budget -- rather than requesting appropriated dollars for railroad safety and hazardous materials safety -- asks us to impose new user fees on the transportation industry.

Some opponents of this approach have called these proposals "George W. Bush's new taxes." The Committee bill rejects these new user fees and provides the funds necessary for these critical safety functions.

Highway Funding

Second, the bill increases funding for highways above the level requested by the President.

Under the Administration's budget, the President launches two new initiatives at the expense of highway construction dollars to the states. They are the New Freedom Initiative for the disabled, and an investment in new truck safety inspection stations at the U.S.-- Mexico border.

The bill before you fully funds these two new initiatives. In fact, the bill adds $15 million to the level requested by the Administration for border truck safety activities.

However, in order to ensure that funding for these initiatives is not provided at the expense of highway construction funds in all 50 states, the bill increases funding for highways to a level that holds all states harmless.

Under the Committee bill, every state will receive more highway construction funding than they would receive either under the President's budget or under the levels assumed in TEA-21.

Third, the bill includes a number of small but important safety initiatives that were not included in the President's budget.

FAA Funding

Within the Federal Aviation Administration, the bill includes funding to hire an additional 221 safety inspectors. Following the ValuJet crash in May of 1996, the Transportation Subcommittee has been increasing the inspection work force every year in order to get to the level of 3300 inspectors. That was the minimum level identified as necessary by the panel of experts that was convened following that crash. It was also the level identified by the National Civil Aviation Review Commission, which was chaired by now-Secretary Norm Mineta.

While the funds for these additional inspectors were not included in the President's budget this year, the bill as approved by the Committee does provide them.

Highway Safety

In the area of highway safety, the bill includes funds that were not requested to boost seatbelt use, especially among at-risk populations. Mr. President, the Administration has articulated a very aggressive goal to increase seatbelt use. Unfortunately, when our subcommittee reviewed the budget, we found no additional resources were requested to match the rhetoric. Today, it is a tragic fact that African-American children, ages 5 to 12, face almost three times the risk of dying in a car crash than white children. The bill before us includes additional, unrequested funds to tackle that problem.

Pipeline Safety -- Record Funding

The Committee has also provided funding above the President's request in the area of pipeline safety. I became involved in this issue after a tragic liquid pipeline accident that claimed three young lives in Bellingham, Washington. The bill before us provides funding that is $11 million more than the level provided last year. Increased funding will be available to boost staffing for the Community Right to Know Initiative and other critical safety measures. I'm proud that this bill provides record funding to make pipelines safer. It's the right thing to do.

Coast Guard

Finally, the funding in the bill is higher than the Administration's request due to my insistence that we address chronic staffing, training and equipment shortfalls at the Coast Guard's search and rescue stations.

The bill provides the Coast Guard's operating budget with $45 million more than the Administration's request in order to address these search and rescue deficiencies, and fund the mandatory pay and benefit costs for our Coast Guard service members.

Mexican Trucks - A Good Compromise

Before I close, I'd like to turn to the issue of Mexican trucks, which is explained in detail on page 85 of the Committee report. Here, our challenge has been to make sure that commerce can move between our two borders while -- at the same time -- ensuring the safety of all who use our highways.

President Bush requested $88 million to improve the truck safety inspection capacity at the U.S.-Mexico border. Unfortunately, the Transportation bill as passed by the House of Representatives does not include even one penny for that request.

The bill before you includes $103 million -- $15 million more than the level requested by the President -- for these border truck safety activities.

The House bill also includes a provision that prohibits the DOT from granting any Mexican trucking firm an operating certificate to begin the cross-border trucking activity that was anticipated by NAFTA.

Mr. President, I believe we have found a good compromise that will promote free trade and ensure safety on our roads. We crafted a provision based on the serious safety risks cited by the Inspector General, the General Accounting Office, and several state law enforcement authorities.

Our provision, which is in this bill, is designed to ensure that a meaningful safety monitoring and enforcement regime is in place before Mexican trucks are allowed to travel anywhere in the United States. The provision establishes several enhanced truck safety requirements that are intended to ensure that this new cross-border trucking activity does not pose a safety risk. This provision was adopted unanimously by both the Transportation Subcommittee and the full Appropriations Committee.

My door is always open to Secretary Mineta and the White House, and I will listen to their concerns. But I believe that my provision -- as it currently stands -- will allow our mutual goals of free trade and safe highways to proceed side by side.

This provision will substantially raise the safety standards that will have to be in place before cross-border trucking can begin. I believe that this is a far better approach than the one taken by the House bill -- which has now drawn a veto threat by the Administration.

I want to thank Senator Shelby for all his input into this bill. I also want to thank Senator Byrd and Senator Stevens for granting our subcommittee an allocation that made it possible to fund the important safety initiatives in this bill. We could not have done it without their help.