|00:00:00||THIS LEGISLATION, IT WOULD COME TO US AND IF THEY DELAYED IT HERE OR THEY HAD THESE CRAZY CONTINUATIONS BECAUSE FOR SOME REASON COULDN'T GET THEIR WORK DONE AND NOW WE'RE SEEING THAT ON THE HOUSE SIDE, THEY'VE HAD MONTHS, MONTHS TO WORK ON THIS, I THINK THEY ACTUALLY BANGDZ THAT WE -- BANKED THAT WE WOULD NOT WORK TOGETHER, DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS AND GET SOMETHING DONE.|
|00:00:21||WE ACTUALLY DID AND A SIGNIFICANT PIECE OF LEGISLATION ABOUT INFRASTRUCTURE THAT'S CRUMBLING IN THIS COUNTRY, 74 VOTES, BIPARTISAN, FROM ALL SPECTRUMS OF THE POLITICAL SUPER SITUATION HERE AND I THINK THEY BANKED THAT WE WOULD FAIL.|
|00:00:34||BUT WE DIDN'T.|
|00:00:35||FIVE WEEKS OF WORK, A LOT OF COMPROMISE BECAUSE WE KNOW WHAT THE IMPACTS ARE ON THE STREET IF DON'T WANT DO THIS.|
|00:00:43||AND I CAN TELL YOU BACK HOME BECAUSE IF THE HOUSE DOESN'T TAKE ACTION ON A VERY REASONABLE BILL, A BIPARTISAN BILL, WHAT WILL HAPPEN IN HE ASK -- IN ALASKA THESE PROJECTS WILL DEOBLIGATE OR NOT OBLIGATE THE FUNDS WHICH MEANS THEY WILL DELAY THEM.|
|00:01:00||THE CONTRACTORS WHO EXPECTED TO DO WORK THIS SUMMER WILL NOT AND IN ALASKA BECAUSE WE'RE A WINTER CLIMATE, A LOT OF NORTHERN STATES HAVE A SIMILAR SITUATION, THE ASPHALT PLANT THAT LAYS THE ASPHALT DOWN CLOSES USUALLY THE FIRST PART OF OCTOBER SO YOU HAVE A WINDOW THAT SHRINKS VERY RAPIDLY AND IF YOU'RE NOT CAREFUL, THE NET RESULT IS YOU HAVE NO PROJECTS AND YOU PAY MORE WHICH MEANS THE DELAY THE HOUSE SIDE IS DOING IS GOING TO COST TAXPAYERS MORE MONEY, THERE WILL BE LESS JOBS.|
|00:01:30||IN ALASKA WE HAVE 18,000 JOBS AT RISK.|
|00:01:33||18,000 JOBS AT RISK.|
|00:01:38||AND AT THE END OF THE DAY AGAIN, YOU GET LESS PRODUCT, LESS ROADS.|
|00:01:42||SO I CAN ONLY ASSUME THE EXPERIENCE I HAVE HERE, YOUR STATE GOVERNMENT THAT WORKS WITH YOUR COUNTY WHEN YOU WERE COUNTY EXECUTIVE, SAME THING THEY HAD TO GO THROUGH LIKE YOU EXPLAINED ON YOUR WATER AND SEWER PROJECTS.|
|00:01:52||BUT AS YOU SAID, TIMES ARE DIFFERENT.|
|00:01:54||YOU CAN'T SUPPLANT LOCAL MONEY LIKE IT USED TO BE BECAUSE WE DON'T HAVE IT.|
|00:02:00||THE ECONOMY IS STRUGGLING AND STARTING TO COME BACK, BUT HERE WE ARE AT A MOMENT, THE ECONOMY IS MOVING THE RIGHT DIRECTION, AND WHAT ARE WE DOING?|
|00:02:09||THE HOUSE OVER THERE IS JUST WAITING.|
|00:02:12||I THINK THAT'S THE EXAMPLE THAT YOU WERE LOOKING FOR THAT WE'RE DOING AND THAT WE'RE SUFFERING THROUGH.|
|00:02:18||COONS: WHAT STRIKES ME MOST ABOUT THIS, MADAM PRESIDENT, AND TO THE GOOD SENATOR FROM ALASKA IS THAT ALL THE SECTORS OF OUR ECONOMY THAT HAVE SUFFERED SINCE|
Mr. BEGICH. Absolutely, I say to the Senator from Delaware. In Alaska, I chaired the Metropolitan Planning Organization, the MPO, which had this money that would come from this legislation. It would come to us, and if they delayed it here or they had these crazy continuations because for some reason they could not get their work done--and now we are seeing that on the House side. They have had months to work on this. I think they actually banked that we would not work together here, Democrats and Republicans, and get something done. We actually did, and a pretty significant piece of legislation about transportation infrastructure that is crumbling in this country got 74 votes, bipartisan, from all spectra of political persuasions. I think they banked that we would fail, but we didn't. There were five weeks of work and a lot of compromise because we know what the impacts are on the street if we don't do this.
Back home, if the House doesn't take action on a very reasonable bill, a bipartisan bill, what will happen in Alaska is that some of these projects will de-obligate, or not obligate the funds, which means they will delay them. That means the contractors who expected to do work this summer will not. And in Alaska, because we are a winter climate--a lot of Northern States have a similar situation--the plant that provides the asphalt closes usually the first part of October. So you have a window that shrinks very rapidly. If you are not careful, the net result is that you have no projects and you pay more, which means that the delay the House side is doing is going to cost taxpayers more money and there will be less jobs. In Alaska we have 18,000 jobs at risk. And at the end of the day, again, you get less product, fewer roads.
I can only assume the experience I have here matches the Senator's State government that worked with the county when he was county executive; it is the same thing they had to go through, as the Senator explained on his water and sewer projects. But, as he said, times are different. You can't supplement it with local money, the way it used to be, because we don't have it.
The economy is struggling and starting to come back. But here we are at a moment when the economy is moving in the right direction, and what are we doing? The House over there is just waiting. I think that is not the example we are looking for but what we are doing and what we are suffering through.