Thursday, October 30, 2008

John McCain's Remarks to Senate July 29th 2006

will proceed to the consideration of
the conference report.
(The conference report is printed in
the proceedings of the House in the
RECORD of July 28, 2005.)
Mr. INHOFE. I understand we have 15
minutes divided evenly between the
majority and minority, and the Senator
from Arizona has up to 30 minutes.
I ask now to recognize the Senator
from Arizona for up to 30 minutes.
from Arizona is recognized.
Mr. MCCAIN. Mr. President, this is a
remarkable piece of work. I want to assure
my colleagues that I will not take
a half hour, but I will take a few minutes
to talk about some of the interesting
and egregious and remarkable
aspects of this bill.
There is an old saying about evil, and
that is, if you do not check it or reverse
it, then it just continues to get
worse. I have to say, I haven’t seen
anything quite like this, although I
have seen some pretty bad things in
the years that I have been here.
It is $286.4 billion, terrifying in its
fiscal consequences and disappointing
for the lack of fiscal discipline it represents.
I wonder what it is going to
take to make the case for fiscal sanity
here. If you had asked me years ago, I
would have said that the combination
of war, record deficits, and the largest
public debt in the country’s history
would constitute a sufficient perfect
storm to break us out of this spending
addiction—and I would have been
wrong. I think we can weather almost
any storm thrown at us. This week’s
expenditures, I think, are a pretty good
I mentioned before, we are all the
beneficiaries of the foresight of President
Eisenhower and the Congress that
helped to shepherd the original highway
bill legislation. I have carried it to
the floor before. It is about that thick.
It has two demonstration projects in it.
This is just a small example of some
of the provisions in this bill, which are
unnumbered pages. The conferees
didn’t even have time to number the
pages. I have no idea how many billions
are in here. Some, I am sure, are very
good projects. Many of them are interesting.
Some of them are entertaining.
Just glance right here: Parking facility
in Peoria, IL, $800,000. A parking facility
in a highway bill.
The original bill as proposed by
President Eisenhower and adopted by
the Congress had two demonstration
projects. Now we have a lot. No one has
counted them yet. No one has counted
these projects because we have not, of
course, had time because they have
been stuffed in late, in the middle of
the night.
Not surprisingly, my colleagues have
come to me and begged: Please make
this short; I have a plane to catch.
Please don’t take too long; I have a
plane to catch. I have to get out of
Of course, it is just a coincidence
that we happen to be considering this
legislation just before we leave.
How do we celebrate? Let me count
the ways.
Section 1963, Apollo theater leases. The
section would require the Economic Development
Administration to lease and improve
the Apollo Theater, in Harlem, New York.
The Apollo Theater in Harlem, NY.
Midway Airport, directs the Coast Guard,
in consultation with the Department of
Transportation, to make grants or other
funding to provide for the operation of Midway
This is not an airport bill; this is a
highway bill.
Expands the authority of the State of
Oklahoma in environmental matters to extend
over ‘‘Indian country’’ within that
Let me say that again.
Expands the authority of the State of
Oklahoma in environmental matters to extend
over ‘‘Indian country’’ within that
I don’t know what that costs. But
what in the world is it doing on a highway
Requires for Treatment as a State under
EPA regulations, an Indian Tribe in Oklahoma,
and the State of Oklahoma, must
enter a cooperative agreement to jointly
plan and administer program requirements.
What is that all about? No one has
ever brought it to my attention as
chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee.
I admit it is a long-neglected
committee—at least until recently.
Eligibility to Participate in Western Alaska
Community Development Quota Program.
Designates a community to be eligible to
participate in the Western Alaska Community
Development Program established
under the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
It may be worthwhile. I have no clue.
What in the world does it have to do
with a highway bill?
This is one of the most remarkable I
have ever seen. I have been talking
about these for years and years, but
this is truly remarkable. This is a
‘‘technical adjustment.’’
This section would overturn a
It overturns a court decision in a
highway bill, and legislates a settlement
between the parties that would
authorize $4 million to be provided, tax
free, to the Alaska Native fund. That $4
million is going to be spent to be provided
tax free to the Alaska Native
fund, in a highway bill.
This section was not in either the
Senate-passed or the House-passed bill.
Neither one. So right there it is in violation
of the rules of the Senate and
the Congress. It wasn’t in either bill.
This ‘‘technical adjustment’’ is neither
technical nor an adjustment, but
it is a bailout for Hawaii and a blatant
giveaway to the Alaska Native population.
In 2000, the General Services
Administration donated to Tanadgusix
Corporation, called TDX, which is an
Alaska Native corporation, a World
War II decommissioned dry dock under
the condition that it be transported
from its holding area in Hawaii and
placed in Alaska.
The TDX agreed to this condition.
However, after receiving title, TDX
began operating the dry dock in Hawaii.
GSA attempted to enforce the
contract. TDX sued the Government. A
Federal district court and the Ninth
Circuit Court of Appeals had both ordered
TDX to tow the dry dock to Alaska.
Additionally, the Department of
Justice has filed a false claim suit
against TDX for its illegal use of the
dry dock.
None of this seems to matter to the
conferees who require the dry dock to
be sold, so long as the buyer agrees to
operate the dry dock outside the
United States to protect the ports in
Hawaii and Alaska from competition.
The conferees also require the Government
to compensate TDX with $4
million tax free.
Why? Again, what in the world does
this have to do with highways? And
why should we be bailing out corporations
and overturning court decisions?
It is only $4 million. We are talking
about $280-some billion. But this is a
bailout for Hawaii and a tax-free gift to
Conferees also have tax cuts. Do you
know in this bill we have tax cuts, repeal
of special occupational taxes on
producers and marketers of alcoholic
beverages? We don’t want people to
drink and drive on highways, so I guess
there is some connection to the highway
bill, repeal their alcohol taxes.
There are income tax credits for distilled
spirits wholesalers. Income tax
credits for distilled spirits wholesalers
in a highway bill.
Caps on excise tax on certain fishing
equipment. I guess you have to drive
on a highway to go fishing. Maybe that
is it.
There are tax breaks for luxury
transportation. We don’t want to leave
our big donors out of this bill. Tax
breaks for luxury transportation, exemption
from taxes on transportation
provided by seaplanes and certain
sightseeing flights. I guess you could
land a seaplane on a highway—although
that is hard, as an old pilot, I
have to say. Exemption on taxes on
transportation provided by seaplanes
and certain sightseeing flights.
I might add to my colleagues, we
have had a couple of hours to examine
a 2,000-page bill.
Section 1114, Highway Bridge Program.
The section contains bridge construction or
improvement projects totaling $100 million
for the fiscal year.
We are getting up there a little bit
These include $12,500,000 per fiscal year for
the Golden Gate Bridge, $18,750,000 per fiscal
year for the construction of a bridge joining
the island of Gravina to the community of
Ketchikan in Alaska.
Let me tell you that once again:
$18,750,000 per fiscal year. We figure it
is about $80 million. It could be a lot
more than that. Guess how many people
live on the Gravina Island? Fifty;
five-zero. I don’t know what that works
out to per capita, but it is about a million-
something per person at least.
. . . and $12,500,000 per fiscal year for the
State of Missouri for construction of a structure
over the Mississippi River to connect
the City of St. Louis, MO, to the State of Illinois.
National Corridor Infrastructure Improvement
Program. Directs the Department of
Transportation to establish and implement a
program for highway construction in corridors
of National significance to promote
economic growth and international or interregional
trade pursuant to criteria in the
It lists 33 earmarks for 24 States totaling
$1.95 billion—B—billion dollars.
Freight Intermodal Distribution Pilot Program.
It is always interesting when you see
the words ‘‘pilot program.’’
Directs the Secretary of Transportation to
establish a freight intermodal distribution
pilot grant program authorized for a total of
$24 million. A portion of the funding must be
used for the following projects:
Short-haul intermodal projects, Oregon $5
million; the Georgia Port Authority, $5 million;
the ports of Los Angeles and Long
Beach, California, $5 million.
Ports—ports, my friends, not highways,
Fairbanks, Alaska [of course] $5 million.
Just throw that in.
Charlotte Douglas International Airport
Freight Intermodal Facility, North Carolina,
$5 million.
South Piedmont Freight Intermodal Center,
North Carolina, $5 million.
Development of Magnetic Levitation
Transportation Systems. Authorizes a total
of $40 million for MAGLEV deployment and
earmarks 50 percent of the funding made
available each year for a MAGLEV project
between Las Vegas and Primm, Nevada, and
50 percent for a project east of the Mississippi
So we are going to have $40 million
for MAGLEV deployment and half of it
goes to Nevada and half of it goes for a
project east of the Mississippi River.
‘‘Project Authorizations,’’ this section
would fund 5,173 projects, totaling
$14.8 billion.
Here is my favorite so far: $2,320,000
to add landscaping enhancements
along—get this—the Ronald Reagan
Freeway. I wonder what Ronald
Reagan would say: $2,320,000.
In my youth, I have watched Ronald
Reagan deride this kind of activity on
the part of Congress. He used to get a
pretty good response.
$480,000 to rehabilitate a historic warehouse
on the Erie Canal in the town of
Lyons, New York.
A historic warehouse. I hope we all
have a chance to visit it sometime.
$600,000 for High Knob Horse Trails, construction
of horse riding trails and associated
facilities in High Knob area of the Jefferson
National Forest in Virginia;
$2,560,000 for the Daniel Boone Wilderness
Trail in Virginia. These funds would be used
for acquiring the site; designing and constructing
an interpretive center, and for the
enhancement of the trail corridor;
$120,000 for the Town of St. Paul—restoration
of Hillman House to serve as a trail information
$400,00 to rehabilitate and redesign Erie
Canal Museum in Syracuse, New York;
$2,400,000 for the National Infantry Museum
Transportation Network in Georgia;
$960,000 for transportation enhancements
to the Children’s Museum of Los Angeles;
$1,200,000 for the Rocky Knob Heritage Center
in Virginia;
$1,600,000 for the Blue Ridge Music Center
in Connecticut.
So we can listen to music as we are
traveling on the highways.
$200,000 for the deer avoidance system to
deter deer from milepost markers in Pennsylvania
and New York;
$1,280,000 for the Cultural and Interpretive
Center in Richland, WA;
$1,200,000 for the planning and engineering
of the American Road, the Henry Ford Museum,
Dearborn, MI;
$1 million for the Oswego, NY pedestrian
waterfront walkway;
$400,000 for the Uptown Jogging, Bicycle,
Trolley Trail in Columbus, GA;
$2 million for Ketchikan, AK, to improve
marine drydock facilities;
$3 million for dust control mitigation on
rural roads in Arkansas.
Dust control mitigation on rural
roads. Good luck. And
$850,000 for the Red River National Wildlife
Refuge Visitor Center in Louisiana;
$5 million for the Grant Tower reconfiguration
in Salt Lake City, UT.
I guess we don’t know what the problem
with the present configuration of
the Grant Tower is in Salt Lake City.
Construction of ferry boats and ferry
terminal facilities, which would set
aside $20 million for the construction
or refurbishment of ferry boats and
ferry terminal facilities and, guess
what, of this amount $10 million would
be earmarked for, guess where, Alaska.
And $5 million would be earmarked for
New Jersey. Way to go, New Jersey.
And $5 million would be earmarked for
It authorizes such sums as may be
necessary for 465 earmarked projects
totalling $2,602,000,000, and the big winners
are Alaska, Colorado, Georgia,
Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Montana,
North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania,
and Vermont.
Going-To-The-Sun Road in Glacier
National Park in Montana. Authorizes
$50 million for a project to be 100 percent
federally funded to reconstruct a
road in Glacier National Park. I am
sure no one else with a national park
in their State has need for roads that
would outdo this one.
Bear Tooth Highway in Montana.
Upon request by the State of Montana,
the Secretary shall obligate such sums
as necessary to reconstruct the Bear
Tooth Highway. I think this might fit
nicely into the $3 million we provided a
few years ago on another appropriation
bill to study the DNA of bears in Montana
so they could use the Bear Tooth
The Great Lakes ITS implementation:
$9 million to continue ITS activities
in the Milwaukee, Chicago, and
Gary, IN, area.
There is a lot more.
The Knik Arm Bridge funding clarification:
Directs the DOT to provide all
funds earmarked for the Knik Arm
Bridge to provide the Knik Arm Bridge
and Toll Authority, $229.45 million. The
Knik Arm Bridge, a name that is hard
to pronounce, I admit, will be renamed
Don Young’s Way.
Another section in the legislation:
Traffic circle construction, Clarendon,
VT—$1 million for the State of
Vermont to plan and complete construction
of a traffic circle at a specified
Three million dollars—$3 million—to
fund the production of a documentary—
get this: $3 million to fund the
production of a documentary about infrastructure
that demonstrates advancements
in Alaska, the last frontier.
Statewide transportation funding.
This section would fund ferry projects,
including $25 million for projects in
Alaska and Hawaii, and extension
projects utilizing ferry boats, ferry
boat terminals, or approaches to ferry
boat terminals; $2.5 million for the San
Francisco Water Transit Authority;
$2.5 million for the Massachusetts Bay
Transportation Authority Ferry System;
$1 million for the Governor’s Island
New York ferry system, and $1
million for the Philadelphia Penn’s
Landing ferry terminal.
The Department of Transportation is
going to provide grants to the Oklahoma
Transportation Center to study
motorcycle accident investigation
methodology, $1,408,000. And then, of
course, $1 million for fiscal years 2006
and 2007 for a wood composite products
demonstration project at the University
of Maine.
Well, anyway, that is how we are
doing the grand plan, and I would point
out to my colleagues there are, according
to the information I have, 30 donor
States that are losers and there are 20
States that are winners. Some States
have as much as 526 percent return on
every dollar that is sent to Washington,
and others have as low as 92
percent. Some have 206 percent, 218
percent, 207 percent, 227 percent.
I ask unanimous consent that this
chart be printed in the RECORD. I think
my colleagues would be interested to
see how they came out on this.
Without objection, it is so ordered.
There being no objection, the material
was ordered to be printed in the
RECORD, as follows:
VerDate Aug
Mr. MCCAIN. What is so harmful in
this is, because I happen to represent,
as do some other Senators, fast-growing
States, it is the rapidly growing
States that are penalized the most
here: Arizona, California, Colorado,
Florida, Georgia. The fastest growing
States are the ones that are receiving
the smallest amounts of money, and it
is obviously very unfair. I think we all
know what the answer is. Let the
States keep the dollars they collect in
the form of taxes and spend it within
their own State. I think the answer is
that simple.
This is how this Congress administers
the money of the American people,
Mr. President. In the 1950s when
President Eisenhower’s ‘‘Grand Plan’’
was being formulated, the country focused
on building a unified transportation
system to improve the safety,
security, and economy of our Nation as
a whole. Now, Congress circles transportation
funds like sharks. Instead of
serving the public good, this Congress
slices and dices the Treasury’s money
to fill up the pork barrel. And we do so
with grand speeches and lofty language,
with no trace of shame or irony.
We live in the Era of the Earmark,
Mr. President. In 1982, the transportation
bill included 10 earmarks costing
$386 million. In 1987, the bill included
152 earmarks, with a cost of $1.4
billion. By 1991, the bill included 538
earmarks—costing taxpayers over $6
billion. Our most recent transportation
bill, TEA–21, included 1,850 earmarks
with a price tag of more than $9 billion.
The legislation that we are voting on
today eclipses those numbers. I am told
that SAFETEA–LU includes over 6,300
earmarked projects totaling over $20
Some Members of Congress may be
happy to associate their names with
this legislation—the chairman of the
House Transportation and Infrastructure
Committee for example has made
sure that this legislation renames the
Knick Ann Bridge in Alaska ‘‘Don
Young’s Way.’’ The bridge would also
receive more than $229 million. I want
no part of this, Mr. President. This legislation
is not—I emphasize not—my
way of legislating.
And I’m sure that if we had adequate
time to review this conference report
we would find more pork and more inappropriate
provisions. But, of course,
we will once again go through this
process too quickly for a proper evaluation.
This conference report is over
2,000 pages long—and over six and onehalf
inches high—and yet we’ve had
less than a day to review it. And that
doesn’t even include the statement of
managers, which sits in a box in the
cloakroom—making it difficult for any
member to read.
Fiscal prudence is crucial. But even
if the conferees had excluded pork from
this legislation, that alone would not
make it adequate. Equity is also essential,
and—unfortunately—the conference
report that is before us still retains
a grossly unfair feature of past
This conference report perpetuates
the historical discrepancy between
donor States and donee States. Remarkably,
not only does the bill continue
this disparity, it actually exacerbates
it. Whereas the bill that was
passed last year by the Senate would
have increased, at least theoretically,
every State’s rate of return to 95 percent
in the final year of the bill—2009—
the substitute amendment before the
Senate only promises a rate of return
of 92 percent in 2008 for those States.
Until then, many States will linger at
a rate of return of 90.5 percent in the
first year and less than 92 percent
thereafter while others receive more—
in some cases much more—than what
they contribute to the Highway Trust
As if that weren’t enough, this year’s
bill would actually propose to create
further disparities between States.
Though ‘‘Equity’’ is in the title of the
legislation, the number of donor States
would increase from 28 under current
law to 30. In addition, 16 States would
linger at the bottom of the barrel
through 2009. Some may argue that
these so-called super-donor States
should be satisfied with the fact that
they are scheduled to move from a rate
of return of 90.5 percent to one of 92
percent in 2008. I would suggest that
this is a meager improvement over current
law and nothing to cheer about.
After all, many other States are set to
receive significantly higher rates of return.
While a State like Ohio is expected
to receive 92 percent in 2009,
Alaska will receive a rate of return of
almost 530 percent in the final year. 530
percent on top of the hundreds of earmarks
and special provisions that are
in this conference report.
Mr. President, I fully recognize that
during the years when the Federal Government
was building the Interstate
system, a redistribution of funding between
the States may have made sense.
Clearly, it would have been very difficult
for the State of Montana, for example,
with fewer than a million people,
to pay the full cost of building its
share of the Intestate system. But, Mr.
President, that era is over. Congress
declared the construction of the Interstate
system complete in 1991. Yet here
we are, almost 15 years later, and
donor States are still expected to agree
to the redistribution of hundreds of
millions—if not billions—of dollars to
other States regardless of the already
enormous transportation needs of
donor States.
That’s not where this story ends,
though. The rate of return formula is
based on the authorized funds that are
‘‘below the line’’—that is, that count
towards the calculation of the rate of
return. There is a significant amount
of funds that is ‘‘above the line.’’ These
funds are not counted in the rate of return
calculation. It’s above the line
that more mischief takes place. For example,
$100 million is earmarked for
the Alaska Way Viaduct and Seawall
Replacement project above the line.
This means that Alaska’s rate of return
significantly understates the
amount of Federal funding that Alaska
receives under this legislation. The
race for pork that takes place above
the line also explains why some States
that are nominally donor States might
be happier with this legislation than
one would expect. For example, California
will receive over $1 billion in
funding for earmarked projects above
the line—that’s well over the average
annual funding that California receives
below the line.
In closing, I note that the conference
report exceeds the funding level requested
by the President of $284 billion
by over $2 billion.
yields time?
Mr. INHOFE. Madam President, I
would like to ask the Senator from Arizona,
are you yielding back your time
or just yielding the floor?
Mr. MCCAIN. I am sorry. I would like
to yield 2 minutes of time and yield
back the rest of my time after yielding
2 minutes to the Senator from Arizona.
from Arizona.
Mr. KYL. I thank you, Madam President.
I thank my colleague. I know
that the chairman of the committee is
anxious to conclude the legislation so I
will be brief.
I simply reiterate the point that I
hope colleagues sincerely consider the
points made by the senior Senator
from Arizona—not meant to embarrass
but to get us to focus on how we could
better fund our transportation needs in
the country. We are all pretty bright
and pretty good on identifying what is
necessary, but far better it would be, as
he pointed out, to let the States keep
the money raised in the States and for
them to decide how best to use the
money in their own States. It would be
much more fair than taxing some
States and giving it to residents of
other States. Even for the donor States
such as ours, instead of getting close to
100 percent of the targeted amount
that was provided in the bill in the
first year, some are lucky if they get
there at the very end of the period of
time. There needs to be a fix to this
problem sooner or later. I hope my colleagues
again will sincerely consider
the remarks of those who regrettably
are required to vote against this legislation
because of its unfairness and because
of the way taxpayer dollars are
used for projects, some of which do not
even relate to highways or to transportation.
Madam President, I yield the floor.
Mr. SANTORUM. Mr. President, I
rise to engage my distinguished colleague
from Oklahoma in a colloquy
regarding steel grid reinforced concrete
decking. First, I would like to congratulate
my colleague on the successful
completion of conference negotiations
on this important legislation, and
thank him for all he has done to assist
me and my constituents through this