Representative Oberstar took to the floor in late January to discuss the transportation pieces of the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009:
Our committee's portion, the infrastructure recovery program is targeted. It will be transparent and recipients will be held accountable, and the investments are desperately needed. The construction sector is suffering the highest unemployment rate of any industrial sector, 15.3 percent, 1.4 million construction workers out of a job.
Fully implemented, as our committee proposes, we can have a million workers on a construction site in June of this year and generate $325 billion in total economic activity when fully implemented, jobs that cannot be outsourced to other countries, using materials that are made in America, not outsourced beyond our shores.
Transparency, we require reporting by every State DOT, every transit agency, every airport authority, every 30 days on the contract awarded, by contract, on the specific jobs, job description and payroll, which we will receive and make public through hearings that we will conduct 30 days after the funding is allocated to the States and every 60 days thereafter.
Accountability, an amendment which I expect or hope to offer tomorrow made in order by the Rules Committee, will have a requirement that funds be committed in 90 days, use it or lose it.
Senator Klobuchar was on the floor of the United States Senate recently speaking in favor of Eric Holder to become Attorney General of the United States.
I rise today in support of Eric Holder to be the next Attorney General of the United States.
The next Attorney General will need to hit the ground running, from beefing up civil rights and antitrust enforcement to addressing white-collar crime and drug-related violence, to helping keep our country safe from terrorist attacks. As I told the Judiciary Committee last week when I voted in favor of his nomination, Eric Holder is the right man to do the job. He is the right man to lead the Department of Justice at this critical time. And most importantly, coming from a State that had our own share of problems with a political appointee put in place as U.S. Attorney, he is the right man to get the Department back on course, to put the law first, when it comes to the Department of Justice.
The President called on us to take immediate action. That is what this economic recovery plan is about--a bipartisan group of Senators--and, Mr. President, you and I were involved--who got together and said we need to get this done. I thank Senators Nelson and Collins for their hard work. It is not a perfect bill, and I don't agree with everything in it and with everything that came out, but literally we cannot afford to wait any longer to get something passed.
At the core of this bill is jobs. This bill is about jobs, jobs, jobs. It will put Americans to work by rebuilding our roads, highways, and bridges, which have been neglected far too long. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that for every $1 billion of highway spending, it creates nearly 48,000 new jobs and generates more than $2 billion in economic activity.
Another piece of the plan I want to highlight is the emphasis on energy jobs. I spent the last few months traveling around my State. I can tell you what I have seen. I have seen the little telephone company in Sebeca, MN, that needed a backup power structure because power was going out for their customers. They put together a packet with small wind and solar, and they sold it to the people in their area. They have been selling like hotcakes. The windmills in Pipestone, MN, became so popular that they opened up a bed and breakfast. You can go and stay overnight with your wife and wake up in the morning and look at the wind turbine. That is the package.
The point of this is that the people in our State see the value of these new energy jobs, whether it is a little solar panel factory in Starbuck, MN, or a big wind turbine manufacturing factory up in the Moorhead area. They see the value of new energy jobs. This energy technology revolution--or ET--is different than the information technology resolution--IT. When I saw the IT revolution, as big as it was, jobs tended to be segmented in certain areas such as the Silicon Valley, and they tended
to be for people with graduate degrees and PhDs. This energy technology revolution will spread jobs across the country, in manufacturing jobs, green helmet jobs, and many other jobs for the people of this country.
Finally, this plan contains money, significant money for broadband and telecommunications infrastructure--$7 billion. When President Roosevelt said he was going to put rural electrification in place in 1935, we only had 12 percent of American farms with electricity. About 15 years later, 75 percent of the farms had electricity. That is what Government action can do.
Look at broadband. We have gone from fourth in the world to 15th. This is not the kind of progress that will keep our country moving and get us back on track. For broadband, there is $7 billion in this bill.