June 28, 2012


WASHINGTON – Today, Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-SD) released the following statement in reaction to an agreement reached by Senate and House negotiators on a federal surface transportation reauthorization.   
“After intense and exhaustive negotiations our conference committee has reached agreement on a bill that will benefit every American.  In my home state of South Dakota alone, this bill will support 10,000 jobs and across the country it will support nearly 3 million jobs.  It will improve rural transit service and make our nation’s highways safer and more efficient.   I am relieved that we will not let another construction season go by without certainty of federal funding. 
“This conference report will also provide long-term stability to the flood insurance program by reauthorizing it for 5 years.  The National Flood Insurance Program protects millions of homeowners and is critically important to our nation’s housing market.
“I am also pleased that this bill included a provision to avert a catastrophic student loan rate hike.  South Dakota already has the highest percentage of students graduating with debt, and we couldn’t afford to make it more difficult on our next generation of graduates.
“Today we sent a clear message that it is still possible to work across the aisle and pass commonsense bipartisan legislation in   the interest of the American people.”
As Chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, which is responsible for authorizing the transit portion of the federal surface transportation program, Senator Johnson served as one of the conferees.  The Banking Committee’s public transportation piece of the bill maintains current funding levels, improves safety oversight, and streamlines the construction of public transportation projects.