Thank you, Mr. President. I thank the two senators here for their work on this very important resolution. I come to the floor today on another topic, and that is to thank and congratulate the House of Representatives who earlier today handed a great victory to the people of Wisconsin and Minnesota by passing legislation that will finally allow construction to begin on a stronger, safer bridge in the St. Croix River Valley.

After 30 years of debate and delay, we have finally gotten it done, and I'm proud to say we got it done with broad support in both chambers. The legislation that I introduced in the Senate to allow this bridge to be built passed unanimously in January and our Senate bill has passed the House today with the overwhelming backing of 339 members, making the final vote count 339-80.

This was truly a team effort, and it is an inspiring example of what we can accomplish when we are willing to put politics aside and come together to do what's right for the people that we represent. I want to thank my colleagues in the House for their hard work and dedication in moving this legislation forward. Representatives Ron Kind, Sean Duffy, Michelle Bachmann, Chip Cravack and Tammy Baldwin. I also want to thank Secretary Ray LaHood and his staff at the Department of Transportation as well as Governors Mark Dayton and Scott Walker for their leadership at the state level.

In both Minnesota and Wisconsin, there is overwhelming consensus about the critical need for a new bridge in the St. Croix River Valley. There are sometimes disputes on what that bridge should look like, but there tends to be consensus that we simply can't have a lift bridge in the 1930's -- from the 1930's with 18,000 cars going over it. The current lift bridge, as I mentioned, was built in 1931. Chunks of rusting steel and concrete fall off it and into the river below. Traffic backs up behind it, especially in the summer months, sometimes for a mile with cars lined up by houses, cars lined up by businesses, and it is not a desirable situation for anyone in the town of Stillwater. The Minnesota department of Transportation has listed the bridge as being structurally deficient and fracture critical, meaning that if one component of the bridge fails, the entire structure fails.

Simply put, the bridge cannot meet the needs of the region, neither in terms of public safety or in -- nor in supporting traffic caused by a growing population. As the bridge has aged, we have seen significant increases in congestion. This is an especially big problem in the summer months when the bridge lifts frequently to allow watercraft to pass, causing traffic to back up on both sides of the bridge, increasing gridlock and air pollution, hindering economic activity and threatening public safety, particularly when emergency vehicles are unable to pass through.

Now, here are the numbers. The current structure was designed to support 11,200 vehicles a day. It cannot handle the average 18,400 cars that cross it every day, let alone anticipated increases in usage. But with this new bridge, 48,000 vehicles will be able to cross safely and efficiently every day. This is clearly important from a public safety perspective, but it also means new channels for economic growth. Without a new bridge, anticipated usage would reach 23,500 by 2030. With a new bridge, anticipated usage will reach 43,000 vehicles per day. Those 20,000 additional vehicles will mean more opportunities for local industry and more customers for local businesses, made possible by an infrastructure capable of supporting new growth and development.

When you look at the numbers, it is easy to see why my Senate legislation was able to pass not only in the Senate without any opposition, but it is easy to see why the House passed the bill by such a wide bipartisan margin today.

We are less than an inch away from the finish line, Mr. President, and now we need the President of the United States to sign the bill. I spoke with Secretary LaHood this morning. I don't anticipate it to be an issue. He was very positive about the bridge, but we need a prompt signature. The people of Minnesota and Wisconsin have already waited 30 years. They cannot afford to wait any longer. We cannot afford to delay. It's time to finally get this bridge done.

 I want to once again thank all of my colleagues who worked hard to advance this bill. Michelle Bachmann in the house led the effort on the Minnesota side and I led the effort in the senate. I want to thank the other Senators who were so good to support this bill, Senator Franken, Senator Kohl and Senator Johnson. I look forward to standing with all of my colleagues when the President signs this into law. I look forward to standing with you again on that proud day in the near future when we finally break ground on a stronger and safer bridge for the St. Croix River Valley. Thank you, Mr. President. I yield the floor.