Thursday, June 24, 2010

Shuster opposes the DISCLOSE ACT

Congressman Bill Shuster released the following statement in strong opposition to the “DISCLOSE Act,” legislation that would significantly undermine the First Amendment to the Constitution by restricting political speech in elections.

“The DISCLOSE Act is an outrageous attempt by Democrats in the House to fix the game in their favor when it comes to political speech. I find their contempt for the Constitution and the First Amendment striking since their legislation specifically exempts the Democrats' largest contributors.

I also find it suspicious that the legislation goes into effect after only 30 days – right in time for the November elections and fast enough to avoid judicial review of the Act’s obvious unconstitutionality. The speed of the Act's enactment is designed to protect the Democrats' donor base in the upcoming election.

America’s Founding Fathers didn’t intend for the First Amendment to only protect the free speech of the Democrat Party’s special interest groups. This legislation sends a chilling message to everyone who opposes President Obama’s agenda: ‘shut up or go to jail.’”

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Shuster Statement on Military Leadership Change in Afghanistan

Congressman Bill Shuster released the following statement on today’s announcement of the resignation of General Stanley McChrystal:

“Throughout this week’s events we must not forget that our nation is engaged in a war where our sons and daughters continue to risk their lives every day to protect us all from the spread of Islamic terrorism.

We must remain focused on our objective in Afghanistan. This must remain paramount in the minds of our civilian and military leaders as they move forward with their transition of leadership in the Afghan theater.

That said, while his recent comments were unfortunate, I have a great deal of respect for General McChrystal and the service he has given our nation in Afghanistan and around the world in his previous leadership roles. I respect President Obama’s decision and I have great faith in General Petraeus’ ability to prosecute our strategy in Afghanistan successfully.”

Shuster in "The Hill:" A multitude of missed opportunities

A Multitude of Missed Opportunities

By Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.)

History will probably regard the disappointing record of the 111th Congress on issues of transportation and infrastructure as a litany of missed opportunities.

Our nation’s infrastructure, once the envy of the world, is rapidly falling into disrepair. These very real problems threaten our economic security and our way of life. The American Society of Civil Engineers Report Card for America’s Infrastructure gives America’s infrastructure a D grade and our roads a near failing D-. This is simply unacceptable.

Crippling congestion and poor roads cost businesses and commuters almost $90 billion a year in wasted time and fuel. Americans spend more than 4 billion hours per year stuck in traffic. One-third of America’s major roads are in poor or mediocre condition and 45 percent of major urban highways are congested. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the federal government needs to invest a minimum of $62 billion per year just to maintain our roads and bridges in their present condition. Our current annual level of investment is less than two-thirds of that amount.

Addressing these challenges requires leadership and vision that has unfortunately been sorely lacking in Washington. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act represented an unprecedented opportunity to truly invest in our nation’s infrastructure needs, create hundreds of thousands of jobs and contribute to a long-term economic revival.

However, less than 8 percent of the nearly trillion dollars spent on the stimulus was actually dedicated to roads and bridges. Despite promises from President Barack Obama to include a significant investment in the highway system, the stimulus provided a paltry $30 billion towards roads and bridges, most of which has been used for short-term repaving and maintenance projects and not much needed capacity improvements.

Instead of making a serious investment in infrastructure, where every $1 billion creates or sustains roughly 30,000 jobs, the stimulus provided a grab-bag of big government social spending that has done little to nothing to stimulate the economy or address our infrastructure crisis.

While I was encouraged the stimulus promised $8 billion designated for expanded passenger rail service, even this opportunity has been squandered. Instead of focusing on key corridors, scare federal dollars were spread too thin among too many rail projects, leading to incremental progress that could slow our already delayed entrance into high-speed rail. Perhaps the biggest missed opportunity was the failure to invest in the Northeast Corridor, which, for the most part, was kept out of the selection process. Failing to invest in the critical Northeast Corridor will insure continued congestion in our nation’s most densely populated region.

Finally, the failure to pass a long-term surface transportation bill has resulted in massive uncertainly to states, which must plan critical projects years in advance, and to the construction industry, which has been unable to invest, hire new employees, or purchase equipment, sending ripples through the economy. While Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn.) and Ranking Member John Mica (R-Fla.) have shown leadership on this issue in the House, President Obama, the Senate and the Department of Transportation have been content to delay any action until next year. These delays only further exacerbate the problems we are facing as a nation and will require even more difficult choices when action finally occurs.

These delays have serious consequences to our aging transportation system as well as the construction, engineering and materials industries that could flourish if the government invested in our roads and bridges.

We must not and cannot wait for another tragedy like the I-35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis, Minn., to occur before our leaders focus on these vital issues. The time for missed opportunities must come to an end. The time for talk and delay is over. The time to act is now.

Rep. Shuster is a member of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Shuster Congratulates Congressional Art Competition Winner

Desiree Cavalancia of Indiana Area Sr. H.S., in Indiana, County Wins for the 9th District.

Congressman Bill Shuster is pleased to announce the winner of the 2010 Congressional Art Competition. This year’s winner is Desiree Cavalancia, a student at Indiana Area Senior High School. Desiree won for her wonderfully made pencil work entitled “Yesterday’s Tomorrow.”

“I want to congratulate Desiree for her talent and creativity,” Shuster said. “Her piece is a creative depiction that links our agricultural past to a future open to new possibilities. She has mastered her medium and her art work will proudly represent the 9th district in the Capitol complex.”

Monday, June 7, 2010

Shuster: Don’t Regulate Freight Rail System

Read Shuster's editorial at Roll Call online:

America has the greatest freight rail network in the world. Our system is the most efficient of its kind and essentially relies on no subsidies from the federal government. More than a century ago, America’s railroads ushered in the great advancements in industry that sparked America’s emergence as an economic power on the world stage. America’s railroads revolutionized transportation, gave promise to freedom of movement and made business more efficient.

Today, we find ourselves in the midst of a freight rail renaissance. America’s freight railroads carried more than 2.26 billion tons of freight in 36 million cars over 140,000 miles of track in 2008. Dollar for dollar, the freight rail industry carried this cargo more efficiently and at a lower operating cost than other modes of transportation, with rail fuel efficiency up 94 percent since 1990.

Railroad’s resurgence could not have come at a better time. Highway congestion and environmental concerns have become increasingly important, and railroads are an effective means of mitigating both issues. A single freight train takes 280 trucks off the road and can move a ton of goods 457 miles on one gallon of diesel. If just 10 percent of the trucks on the road were shifted to freight rail, America would save 1 billion gallons of fuel each year.

This massive gain in fuel economy has an equally important environmental benefit. Freight rail is one of the greenest modes of transportation available. According to recent statistics, if just 10 percent of freight was switched from long-haul trucks to rail, greenhouse gas emissions would fall by more than 12 million tons. You’d need to plant more than 280 million trees to equal what freight rail can do.

Credit also has to be given to CSX Corp. and Norfolk Southern Corp. for their efforts in developing the National Gateway and Crescent Corridor. CSX’s National Gateway will convert more than 14 billion highway miles to rail. It is expected that this system will reduce fuel consumption by 2 billion gallons and shipping costs by $3.5 billion. Norfolk Southern’s Crescent Corridor will similarly reduce carbon emissions by 2 million tons per year and save 170 million gallons of gas annually.

Yet given its successes and self-reliance, the railroad industry finds itself back in Congress’ cross hairs. The question is this: Will America’s railroads continue to be given the freedom necessary to grow their industry without direct interference by the federal government, or will Congress reregulate the industry?

Reregulation would be a potentially catastrophic public policy that could erase 30 years of positive growth and threaten to reduce the railroads to ruinous decreases in services and disinvestment not seen since the 1970s. I firmly believe that if Congress reregulates rail, it will be only a matter of time before our once self-reliant railroads are forced to rely on taxpayer dollars to invest in infrastructure and safety improvements as federal mandates mount.

If railroads are not free to put their dollars into the projects that make the most economic sense and are instead forced to spend their profits complying with legislative mandates, the long-term viability of the industry is threatened.

Instead of penalizing the rail industry for its success, Washington should be promoting new investment to keep America’s railroads in the driver’s seat of the global economy. That’s why I support tax credits for the expansion and rehabilitation of the nation’s rail infrastructure.

Tax credits are a proven policy tool to encourage businesses to invest in worthwhile projects. Because the railroads still pay for their projects under tax credit plans, tax credits ensure that the railroads will only pursue projects that make sense. Direct grants, on the other hand, could be seen as “free money” that would not be subject to the same rigorous business decisions. There are two tax credit bills that I support, including a 25 percent tax credit for rail projects that expand the rail network and ease congestion, and a short line tax credit that expired at the end of last year.

America’s railroads are at a crossroads. The direction that Congress moves will have a lasting effect on American competitiveness. Washington must resist the urge to overregulate an industry that has proven to be largely self-sufficient and capable of weathering economic stress. I will do my part as a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to make sure it does not happen.

Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) is a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and ranking member of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Shuster Statement on May Jobs Report

While a positive employment report is always welcome news, a closer look at May’s jobs report should give every American a reason to be concerned with the way Washington is handling the economy.

Of the 431,000 jobs added in May, 411,000 of them were temporary government census hirings. It is only a matter of time until these census jobs expire, pushing American working families back onto the unemployment rolls.

The American people were never promised a jobless recovery by this President and this Congress, but that is exactly what they have given us. I am very concerned that the current Administration and the leadership in Congress are more concerned with growing the scope and power of the federal government than with growing our private economy. They are more interested in consolidating power than empowering the American family.

The relationship between our anemic growth in our private economy and the reckless spending in Washington cannot be stressed enough. Since President Obama took office two years ago we have seen our debt soar to $13 trillion with an average of $4.8 billion added on each day.

To grow our economy and create real, lasting employment Congress must act to put the breaks on the reckless spending that has put us on the same path as Greece and most of Europe. We must stop governing by debt. The American people are tired of it and the American economy cannot recover under its weight.