Mr. President, I rise today to stress the critical infrastructure needs across our nation and urge the House of Representatives to act quickly and pass the Surface Transportation Bill that we passed in the Senate with an overwhelming bipartisan vote.
The fact of the matter is that we've neglected the roads, bridges and mass transit that millions of Americans rely on for far too long. I know that. A bridge collapsed, Mr. President, just a few blocks from my house. It wasn't just a bridge. It was an eight-lane highway. 13 people died, dozens of cars submerged in the river. As I said that day a bridge doesn't just fall down in the middle of America.
Well, it did that day and I am committed to passing this Highway Bill. This is important for jobs. This is important for congestion, for drivers who sit in congestion. Americans spend a collective 4.2 billion hours a year stuck in traffic at a cost to the economy of $78.2 billion. The solution? Pass this highway bill.
It reduces the number of highway programs from over 100 down to around 30. It defines clear national goals for our transportation policy. It streamlines environmental permitting. I spoke to 75 highway contractors today. They are ready to go. They want this bill to pass.
Companies like caterpillar employ 750 people at its road paving equipment manufacturing facility in Minnesota. I visited that company in August. Caterpillar employees are the kind of people who are out there on the front lines of American industry, who want to build these roads, who are building the products when we talk about Made in America, that's what they're doing.
I would also say, Mr. President, with the short construction season for states like Minnesota, my friend from California may not quite have the situation, but for winter states that have a short construction season, we cannot delay, delay, delay on this Highway Bill. We cannot stop these construction projects in their tracks. We cannot stop these jobs in these tracks.
It is time to pass the Senate Highway Bill. It has bipartisan support, 74 out of 100 senators voted for that bill. I ask the House of Representatives to quickly pass this bill, to get this done without delay. It means jobs. It means safety. And it means a future for America. Thank you, Mr. President. I yield the floor.