U.S. Rep. Dennis A. Ross (FL-15), Senior Deputy Majority Whip, released the following statement after voting to pass the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which is a five-year surface transportation reauthorization bill. Included in this comprehensive transportation package are important provisions such as language restoring funds previously cut from the Crop Insurance program and H.R. 2997, the Private Investment in Housing Act of 2015, which was introduced by Rep. Ross to provide the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) the authority to establish a demonstration program and enter into budget-neutral, performance-based agreements that result in the reduction of energy and water costs for multifamily housing.
"Today, I voted in favor of a surface transportation reauthorization package that will strengthen our economy and provide states long-term certainty and flexibility for much-needed infrastructure projects. The bill reforms transportation programs, refocuses on national priorities, streamlines project approval processes, and maintains a strong commitment to safety. This package is fully paid for and ensures fiscal responsibility without raising taxes. The bill also raises more than $70 billion in offsets, which in combination with interest accrued on the balance within the Highway Trust Fund is enough to keep the Fund solvent through the end of Fiscal Year 2020.
"Eleven percent of Florida's major urban roads are in poor condition, and 17 percent of Florida's bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Driving on roads in need of repair costs Florida motorists $4.5 billion per year in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs. Additionally, 47 percent of Florida's major urban highways are congested, with traffic congestion costing American motorists $121 billion per year in wasted time and fuel costs. Florida also has a traffic fatality rate higher than the national average. Highway improvements and infrastructure projects reformed under this bill will help reduce traffic fatalities and accidents, help relieve congestion, and create jobs in Florida.
"I am also pleased this package included the Private Investment in Housing Act of 2015 that I introduced to encourage the private sector to retrofit and modernize a limited number of HUD multifamily affordable housing units at absolutely no cost or risk to taxpayers. Furthermore, I was happy to vote for the FAST Act because the bill included additional language that reverses detrimental cuts previously made to the crop insurance program through the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, which I voted against this past October. Florida's agriculture industry is vital to our state and local communities. The crop insurance program is the most valuable tool farmers have in their risk management plans, and I will continue doing all I can to protect Florida's farmers and citrus growers."