I have been a member of the Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure since coming to Congress. By focusing on transportation issues that are key to economic development, I have helped bring jobs and opportunities to towns and cities my district and the state. One of my first accomplishments as a Member of Congress was winning funding for the much-needed Fuller Warren Bridge in Jacksonville. For years, Florida had been a donor state to the Highway Trust Fund and the Airport Improvement Program. I was a leader in the fight to change transportation funding through an initiative called "Tea-21," which returns more transportation money to populous states like Florida and Texas. As a result, Florida now receives a 57% increase in transportation funding.
Early in the 110th Congress, I was picked to Chair the Transportation Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials. This subcommittee is very important to Florida and this district because of its jurisdiction over the passenger and freight rail industry, which plays a vital role in Florida's economy. In that session, the House passed H.R. 6003, the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act, a bipartisan bill to rebuild Amtrak and construct high-speed rail on high-density corridors across the nation. H.R. 6003 authorized $14.9 billion for Amtrak capital and operating grants, state intercity passenger grants, and high-speed rail over the next five years. Also, by a vote of 377 to 38, the House of Representatives approved the Federal Railroad Safety Improvement Act of 2007 (H.R. 2095), which reauthorized the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and improve the safety of our Nation’s railroads. President Bush signed both bills into law.
In 111th Congress, I advocated for a dramatic increase in transportation funding in the stimulus package for the nation, and the state of Florida. In fact, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided approximately $44 billion for projects such as roads, bridges, dredging, rail and transit. High speed rail alone received an $8 billion boost. Additionally, the Subcommittee focused on safety of pipelines and the safe transportation of hazardous materials. We conducted investigations and held hearings focused on the dangers of lithium ion batteries and severe inadequacies in the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration within the Department of Transportation. This oversight activity led to new rules for shipping lithium ion batteries, pipelines safety monitoring, and permitting for hazardous material transportation.
In the 112th Congress, as we develop the next six-year transportation reauthorization bill, I intend to include a strong and comprehensive rail title that includes a dedicated funding source for rail. I have also been a staunch advocate of the inclusion of $50 billion in rail funding over the life of the bill. We have already made a significant investment in both high-speed and commuter rail in Florida and I look forward to our state having the first intermodal high speed rail system in the nation.