Washington Review, October 31, 2013
This was an important week for the specially appointed Panel on 21st Century Freight Transportation. After six months of deliberation, the Panel completed its mission. Less than a week after Congress voted 417 to 3 in favor of a major transportation authorization bill, I was joined by my colleagues on the Panel on 21st Century Freight Transportation to announce a series of bipartisan recommendations in our report to Congress. The findings of the Panel will play a key role in the development of a long-term surface transportation bill which is expected to be completed before the end of 2014. These common sense, bipartisan recommendations will also help ensure that New Jersey remains competitive and will ensure that our nation, which moves nearly $20 trillion in goods on our transportation network each year, remains competitive.
This week also marked a year since the landfall of Hurricane Sandy that devastated the East Coast, especially New Jersey. The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure also met to markup reauthorizations of critical FEMA programs that are still aiding in New Jersey’s recovery. It is important that we continue to support areas of our nation that were affected by Sandy. At the same time, we need to do more to be prepared so that our cities and towns will be able to withstand natural disasters. Strong building codes provide our best defense against hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, wildfires, and other natural disasters.
With that in mind, my colleague, Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), and I have introduced The Safe Building Codes Incentive Act (H.R. 1878) to encourage more states to adopt and enforce strong building codes as a preventative measure. If New Jersey did not have strong building codes, the damage inflicted by Sandy could have been much worse. It is my hope that the leadership on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will bring this important bill before the House of Representatives for consideration soon.