On Senate Floor, Portman Discusses the Positive Impact the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act Will Have on Every American
WASHINGTON, DC – Today on the Senate floor, Senator Portman highlighted the landmark bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act he helped craft, which represents a historic investment in roads and bridges, rail, transit, ports, airports, the electric grid, broadband, and much more. He discussed how the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act will grow the economy, create jobs, and increase efficiency – without raising taxes or adding to the surging inflation our economy is currently experiencing.
Portman highlighted a few specific areas of the legislation that will positively impact his constituents in Ohio and other Americans around the country. He discussed how the bill will bring broadband internet to places that are currently either underserved or have little to no internet at all. He hailed the new reforms that will speed up the federal permitting process so that infrastructure projects can be completed faster and with more efficiency. The bill also invests in highways, which will help ease congestion and lessen commute times. The bill makes a large investment in repairing structurally deficient bridges around the country, like the Brent Spence Bridge in Portman’s hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio – which has been in need of repairs for over two decades. In addition, this bill includes investments in improving water and land ports, which will allow for more goods to move through more efficiently and increased screenings to help prevent deadly drugs from being smuggled into this country.
Portman pointed out that a number of polls have shown that a vast majority of Americans support federal investment in core infrastructure – one of the few things that brings this country together right now. The Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act has also seen strong bipartisan support in the Senate so Senator Portman hopes to be able to vote on final package of this legislation shortly, taking us one step closer to improving people’s everyday life and making the economy more efficient.
A transcript of his remarks can be found below and a video can be found here.
“Madam President, I appreciate my colleague from Delaware. He is the chair of the committee that produced a lot of work that went into this package – roads, bridges, the highway bill, the surface transportation bill come through his committee. He and Senator Capito from West Virginia worked together on a bipartisan basis and my recollection is in the underlying bill that we pick up in the broader bill, that has to do with roads and bridges and so on, passed with a vote of 22-0 out of his committee and that’s because they did good work in finding out where there was common ground and, frankly, the American people deserve to have good roads and bridges and infrastructure to drive on, travel on, and so it’s a big part of this bill and I thank him for his work on that.
“We have now voted twice to proceed to this very important legislation to finally, after a lot of years of talking about it, making a major improvement to our nation’s roads, bridges, railroads and ports, waterways, water infrastructure, electrical grids, our broadband networks and more. It is overdue. And I’m delighted to say that twice now we have voted to proceed to final passage. One was a vote of 66-28, the other was a vote of 67-27. And, frankly, there were a couple of people on our side of the aisle who were not able to come vote, one of whom has COVID, the others, in both cases, somebody had travel difficulties, so we would have two more votes on our side that were positive votes as well. This is a supermajority and it’s because the legislation makes sense for the states represented here in this chamber and for the American people.
“It will improve the lives of all Americans. It will make life better so the mom who’s stuck commuting who would rather be spending time with her family every day, is going to have the ability, through better transportation infrastructure, to have fewer minutes and hours every day in gridlock. The truck driver who leaves home, says goodbye to his family and goes on a longhaul and thinks, am I going to be safe? He will be safer, thanks to this legislation. We had two trucks collide on a bridge in Ohio recently. It’s not safe. There’s no shoulder on the bridge anymore because the traffic is bearing twice the number of vehicles that it was designed for. The mom who has been taking her daughter to the public library parking lot, 30, 40 miles from her home to get internet access in order for her daughter to do her homework, will now be able to have internet, be able to have broadband, in her community right up to her home because of this historic investment in ensuring that the digital infrastructure is put in place so you don’t have this divide.
“We have counties in Ohio that just don’t have internet, period. Others have very slow internet. We’ve got about 30 counties that are part of Appalachia, we’ve got about 18 of those counties that are unserved and another large group that are underserved. That digital divide makes a huge difference because, again, those kids are going to fall behind – certainly during the pandemic when they had to be accessing the internet to just stay up with school. But even post-pandemic we want to be sure that the learning opportunity is there. And in terms of telehealth, there are veterans in Southeast Ohio who aren’t able to make the drive to the V.A. Clinic in Columbus or elsewhere but they can take advantage of telehealth, and they have to the extent they have access to it during the pandemic and it’s been actually been quite helpful. But if they don’t have access to the internet, and high enough speed internet, they can’t get the health care at home that they need for appointments. It’s also important for business. If you’re a small business owner in these parts of the country that don’t have internet access, it’s really tough to get off the ground and these are the very areas of the country where we want to have more economic development. So, that’s in this legislation as well.
“In terms of water infrastructure, Ohio a lot of aging water infrastructure. I saw someone wrote a story recently that only about a quarter of this bill goes into hard assets. That’s just not accurate. About a quarter of it goes into roads and bridges and even more, I guess. But water infrastructure is a hard asset. Ask the communities in Ohio that have been told by the EPA, in Republican and Democratic administrations, you’ve got to fix your sewer system, you’ve got to fix your drinking water system, you can’t have combined sewer overflow and they just can’t afford it. Particularly these mid-sized cities. They are really excited about water infrastructure. Our ports, that’s hard infrastructure too. Ships are lined up at some ports right now, including out West and so if you’re a consumer and you’re trying to buy something and wonder why you can’t get it, including maybe an electronic device you want or maybe it’s a part to an automobile that you want, a lot of it is it’s stuck – stuff is stuck right now because our ports are not efficient enough and capable enough to handle what they should be able to do. Our land ports, if you’re concerned about the southern border and the ability to screen trucks and cars coming in to try to keep some of this deadly fentanyl and other drugs from coming over our southern border you should want this infrastructure because it’s going to provide more infrastructure for our ports. There’s a lot in here that will make lives better and that’s obviously one reason that this is so popular because people do expect that here in America, this great economy we have, we should be able to also lead the world in infrastructure, and we don’t. There’s a study out saying, in fact, we’re not in the top 10 in terms of infrastructure around the world.
“It also will make our infrastructure more resilient to natural disasters and other crises. It will make our nation safer and more secure. It will grow our economy in a million small but meaningful ways. What the economists say when they look at this legislation, and by the way, again, every president in modern times has proposed a big infrastructure package for this reason, they say it will make your economy more efficient. So we have fallen behind on infrastructure and if we can catch up, the economy is more efficient, therefore we’re more productive, therefore the economy grows, therefore more tax revenue comes in from infrastructure. So it’s a good long-term investment. It’s not money that will be spent next year. Think of the project in your community, it might be helped. That project may last for 10, 15 years even before it’s finally completed. So this money goes out over time for hard infrastructure. That’s one reason it doesn’t affect inflation in a negative way. In fact, it’s counter-inflationary because it invests in hard assets and in jobs over time. If you think about, you’re in business, think about your capital expenditures, your CAPEX budget is going to be different than your day-to-day spending. And you probably borrow for your CAPEX.
“It’s going to also take some important steps to repair, replace, and build assets that will last for decades. Again, that makes life better for people, makes the economy more efficient. It also is something that, as economists look at it, they believe will be counter-inflationary. It’s been made clear in poll after poll this is something that brings this country together. So unbelievably there was a poll by CNBC showing 87 percent of the American people think that it is important that we here in Congress invest in improving our roads and our bridges. Within a couple of months, another poll by CBS found exactly the same number – 87 percent of the American people support more federal spending on repairing bridges and roads. An Associated Press poll found that eight in 10 Americans favored plans to increase funding for roads and bridges and ports, and for pipes that supply drinking water. That’s what the bill does. And we need the investment. Let’s be honest. The American Society of Civil Engineers gives our infrastructure in America a grade of C-. That’s not very high. They project our economy stands to lose more than $10 trillion in GDP, $10 trillion in our economy, by 2039 if we fail to invest in these repairs. We have fallen to 13th in the world in infrastructure while key foreign competitors like China spend now four times more on infrastructure than we do. China is spending four times more as a percent of their economy than we do. Why? Because they want their economy to be more efficient. They want to compete with us and win. We want to compete with them and have American workers win. 13th in the world is based on a study that is done periodically to ensure that we’re comparing apples to apples. They look at all kinds of things. America has a very strong, competitive economy generally, but infrastructure is a weakness for us. So this is the World Economic Forum.
“They put this study out periodically. I follow it, I look at it because it has a lot of different things in it, not just infrastructure, as to how our economy is doing. How we are doing on permitting. Not so good. Guess what? We have permitting reform in this package. The permitting reform will allow the federal dollar to go further. So think about it – if it takes six, eight, 10 years to permit a project, the enormous cost involved in that. But if you can do it in two years, which is the goal of our permitting reform, that makes a huge difference. And a lot of it is because you have a lot of different federal agencies that are requiring permits. If you have an energy project, whether it’s a fossil fuel project or whether it’s a renewable energy project, you can have as many as 30, I’m told in one case 35, different permits. By the time you finish the first 30, you’ve got to go back to the first one again to get it again. It’s crazy. We had a project in Ohio actually shut down because they just couldn’t handle the permitting. It was hydropower along the Ohio River. That’s in this legislation too. Historic permitting reform. And that should make sense to every taxpayer. Yeah we want to go through the environmental studies, that’s fine. But let’s do it quickly and efficiently, allow one agency to be in charge and accountable, that’s what this does; require there to be a dashboard that anybody can look up and find out where that project is. That keeps it moving, very transparent. That’s in this proposal.
“There are some good things in here that ensure that the money that is spent is spent more wisely than it has been in the past. Let’s be sure people can’t come back and sue after the fact. We take the amount of time that someone can come back after the fact and sue on a project from six years to two years. That’s very important to developers. That’s very important to our workforce. It’s very important to the building trades in this country.
“You look at the list of supporters of this project, it’s unbelievable. The American Farm Bureau and over 30 farm groups have now come out for this proposal. For those in big Ag states, I would say listen to your farm bureau, you usually do, and they’ll tell you this is very good for the farmer that wants to get his crops to the market. In Ohio, we’ve got a lot of soybeans. We want to get them to the elevator, we want it to be efficient but we also send them all over the world so we want our ports to be efficient. But it’s not just the Farm Bureau, you have the National Association of Manufacturers supporting this, the American Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable and the AFL-CIO Building Trades Council – the men and women who do the work – they strongly support this legislation. So it’s going to help in terms of jobs, competitiveness. Again, it’s no wonder that so many people over the years have said we need to fix our infrastructure.
“Every president in modern times, by the way, has had a proposal to do so. The joke here in Washington is oh, it’s infrastructure week again, because, frankly, administrations over time have had infrastructure week, we’re going to get infrastructure done this week and nothing has happened. Congress has been stuck. We’ve been in gridlock on this, kind of like the gridlock during rush hour in so many of our cities today that we want to fix with this bill. That gridlock here has kept us from doing what we’re trying to do in this legislation.
“$550 billion in additional funding over the next five years is what this is. Others have said its $1 trillion. It’s $550 billion, actually a little less, $548 billion is what the final number was, over five years, as a shot in the arm to help get these projects going. Not just in the next year or five years, but over the next 20 or 30 years, this money will be spread out over time. But this is part of how we get America on a track where we have good-paying jobs and more efficiency in our economy long-term. Every president, as I said, has tried to get the infrastructure bill done. One of those presidents is our most recent president, President Donald Trump, who pushed to pass a $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill during his time in office, in his budget. As a developer, he gets it. He understands the importance of infrastructure, and I applaud him for that. And honestly, I think he changed the discussion a little bit on my side of the aisle. I think he got more Republicans thinking, you know – one of my colleagues told me recently that two things the government ought to do and do well are national defense and infrastructure. I think there are other things the government does as well, but that’s not a bad list for what the priorities ought to be for the federal government. Look at the interstate highway system as an example, well it needs help now. I appreciate the fact that President Trump got the discussion going among Republicans who might not have previously focused on that.
“Here’s just a few highlights of what we’ve secured in this legislation. We’re going to provide billions in funding for some of our most pressing hard infrastructure needs. $110 billion in new spending over the next five years to construct, rebuild, and maintain our interstate highway system, our roads, and our bridges. That’s going to make a big difference for us in Ohio. We have 123,000 miles of roads, and where traffic congestion occurs in Ohio, we have an estimated $4.7 billion lost each year, lost time, wasted fuel, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers. $4.7 billion because of traffic congestion in Ohio alone. They also say there are currently more than 46,000 bridges in our country that are considered structurally deficient and in poor condition. Think about that. 46,000 bridges considered structurally deficient and in poor condition. 46,000. And yet 178 million trips are taken across these deficient bridges every single day. 178 million cars or trucks go over these same structurally deficient bridges. Ohio, by the way, is number two in the nation for bridges. We like bridges in Ohio. We have lots of creeks, rivers, and railroad tracks that go over it. We have over 40,000 bridges but nearly half of those are not in good condition.
“That’s one reason why I’m pleased this bill provides $12.5 billion to fund the bipartisan Bridge Investment Act that will award competitive grants to improve our nation’s bridges based on whether they are major bridges of commercial activity, based on their condition, based on their safety. We’ve got $60 billion total to help state and local governments fund major construction projects, like the long-awaited Brent Spence Bridge Corridor in my hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio. We have been talking about replacing the Brent Spence Bridge for as long as I’ve been in elected office. And it’s been awhile, it’s been probably 25 years of talking about this. Let’s get it done.
“We’re going to make needed reforms to the permitting process because it will help on that bridge and others to do it more quickly, more efficiently, with less cost to the taxpayer. Again, I want to commend the Trump administration because they prioritized that issue, but the legislation that we had passed here to help with speeding up permitting sunsets. And so this legislation that we’re voting on here actually ends that sunset and, therefore, ensures we can continue that permitting going forward. If we don’t do it in this bill and don’t do it soon, we’re not going to have projects signing up for this Interagency Council on Permitting because of the sunset. They know that they’re not going to be able to take advantage of it so that’s really important. We also strengthen the provision to make it cover more projects and ensure that, again, we’re going to get these permitting reforms to make this dollar, this federal dollar, go further.
“And we’re going to make the necessary investment in the future of our economy by providing $65 billion to increase access to broadband services to connect more Americans to the internet. In Ohio, it is estimated there are about 300,000 households lack access to the high-speed broadband that many of us take for granted. We assume everybody has it. People don’t. It’s holding folks back from being able to get the schooling they need, the health care they need, or to have the economic opportunities that come with being connected to the internet. These are just a few highlights, and I could go on. But the bottom line is that we are dedicating almost $550 billion to new infrastructure spending over the next five year to go toward a wide range of priorities that will collectively have a positive impact on the people I represent and all Americans.
“Importantly, we have funded our bill through a number of responsible pay-fors, without any new taxes on working families, on small businesses, on large businesses, on anybody. This is being done without tax hikes. That’s significant because, remember when we first started talking about infrastructure, it was in the context of a proposal from the Biden administration for a huge increase in taxes. It was a $2.65 trillion package and included incredibly steep tax increases. In fact, taxes increased to much more than taxes were cut back in 2017 in that proposal, about four times more. Some say five times more. But we decided, no, let’s not do that. Let’s pull infrastructure from this package, really core infrastructure because infrastructure is being defined in ways that it had never been defined before, including so-called soft infrastructure. Social spending for nursing homes or for health care or for electric car companies outside of infrastructure. We said no, let’s just pull the core infrastructure out of it and let’s take the taxes off. And that’s how we got down to, again, $548 billion, and without taxes.
“So from the start, we have said some of our pay-fors will not be fully reflected in the formal CBO score that came out on Thursday but instead will be reflected in CBO estimates. What’s CBO? CBO is the Congressional Budget Office. It’s the group up here that we have to rely on in terms of our legislation to say how much something costs. Republicans and Democrats alike love to complain about CBO. In fact, often it’s Republicans complaining about them on my side of the aisle because they don’t give enough credit to the feedback effect from tax cuts. Democrats, kind of just the opposite. They think there should be more feedback effect – in other words, a dynamic score as relates to spending. And we disagree on their calculation of scoring. But that’s who we have to rely on.
“So the CBO estimate that just came out, including what they said about their official score, was disappointing to me because they didn’t follow what we wrote in the law. And we’ve had this discussion, and they are the arbiter. So my same Republican colleagues who have complained about CBO over the years in other contexts are now saying, ‘Look, the CBO score isn’t high enough. You said about half of it would be paid for by official CBO scores.’ It is, but they didn’t give us credit for it. One example is CBO’s limitation that they can’t account for states returning to the federal treasury the money that we dictated they had to return in our bill. They just won’t do it. $53 billion was in our legislation for unused funds from the enhanced COVID-19 UI supplemental put in place during COVID-19. Recouping this outdated supplement is a win for the American taxpayers, and everyone should support sending it back toward projects like infrastructure that help move our economy forward rather than for other purposes. And yet CBO gives us no credit for that.
“CBO is not fully able to reflect the funding streams that will help pay for our legislation in other ways as well. I’ll give you perhaps the two most striking examples of this. One is that, working with the White House, working with the Office of Management and Budget, working with the individual agencies, we were able to determine that some of the COVID-19 funds that this Congress had sent back to the states through agencies was not being spent, and so we wanted to repurpose that money for this purpose. Remember, we’ve spent a lot of money, including $1.9 trillion recently, but even before that, four different pieces of legislation sending money out to the states for COVID-19 purposes. And so we said, ‘Well, if it’s unused COVID-19 funds let’s return it to the treasury and apply it to this.’
“And it makes sense. Infrastructure is something states and localities are eager to have, better infrastructure, and appropriate to use some of that funding. So we said in our proposal that $41.8 billion would be rescinded based on what we got from OMB, from the individual agencies on their unobligated funds. The White House signed off on it, we all signed off on it, Republican and Democrat. Unfortunately CBO chose to give us credit for just $13.4 billion rather than $41.8 billion. Frustrating. It’s a difference of $28.4 billion in savings. Now what they say is that they’re not convinced that even though these are unobligated balances – which we’ve been able to prove, by the way, and we have documents from the White House now after the fact showing this again – but they said, ‘Well, we don’t believe that these agencies that have extra money are going to spend the money.’ That’s one of the reasons they gave. ‘We think they’ll just keep the money.’ When has an agency not spent the money that Congress provides them, I would ask my colleagues.
“I will give you a real-world example of this. As we started to look for these unused COVID-19 funds, it turns out the U.S. Department of Agriculture had some extra funds, they had not sent out to anybody and weren’t planning to. When they heard we were nosing around with the Office of Management and Budget and with the White House to pull back some of those funds for a good purpose, for infrastructure, guess what? They came up with another program. They had the discretion to send the money out under another program, so they came up with one and said, ‘We’ve got this money covered. You’re not allowed to touch it.’ So I’m just telling you, that’s one of the challenges with the CBO scores. They took $28.4 billion in savings and just decided because they knew best that this was not going to be available because the agencies were going to spend it, even though they haven’t spent it and they had no reasons to spend it, they had no plans to spend it. Again, the Office of Management and Budget at the White House had confirmed that.
“Another example. We went from a savings of $65 billion from the next auction for Spectrum down to $20 billion in response to concerns by colleagues on our side of the aisle that this might affect our national security. So $65 billion in savings, CBO-scored savings in this legislation went to $20 billion, working with the Department of Defense carefully, working with the Office of Management and Budget, working with the Armed Services Committee here, ensuring that we weren’t going to touch any Spectrum in that future sale that had a national security implication. So that reduced our CBO score. We understood that, but we wanted to be sure we weren’t taking any risk by having any issue with regard to DOD Spectrum that they didn’t want to provide. CBO then in their report on Thursday decided that they weren’t going to give us credit for that $20 billion. They took it down to about $10 billion. We lost $9.8 billion on a CBO score there. And again, when we pushed on that, they said, ‘Well, we just need to know that the White House is going to move ahead with a Spectrum auction.’ Well, they are. And they have sent us a letter saying they are.
“Again, this is a little arbitrary, don’t you think? How can CBO decide? Just as they took $30 billion away from the CBO score with regard to repurposing COVID-19 money, which is based on the unobligated balances that the White House agreed to, OMB agreed to, but CBO is saying somehow the agencies aren’t going to spend that money. I mean, all the records, if you look at what happens, is that they will spend the money. So we are saving the money. We’re pulling it back and applying it to a good purpose – infrastructure. So I would just caution my colleagues who again traditionally are contraceptive of CBO, but somehow in this case think CBO is perfect, to look a little closer at these scores and look at the fact that they are not necessarily accurate.
“What this legislation does not do, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, is it does not include the grab bag of massive new social spending that Democrats included in their first package and certainly that they are now including in their $3.5 trillion spending proposal they unveiled earlier this month. And this is an important point that my colleagues shouldn’t miss. The president has said that the package, the $3.5 trillion, will not include more core infrastructure funding. Remember, that was pulled out of his original package, the $2.65 trillion. We took about half of the core infrastructure out of there and took out all of the taxes, so we’re at $548 billion. He made a commitment both privately and publicly, as have Democrats up here, that that’s the negotiation on the core infrastructure. So the roads and bridges we talked about earlier, the water infrastructure, the rail, the ports. That can’t be double-dipped in terms of also including that in the $3.5 trillion.
“Now, they will have a lot of other spending in there that is social spending, that is not this capital expenditure spending we talked about. Many of my colleagues know what CAPEX means, that you typically borrow for your CAPEX, and it’s long-term spending for hard assets. But that’s not what the $3.5 trillion is about, and that’s why I strongly oppose it, as do my colleagues on this side of the aisle. The president having said that the package will not double-dip, we won’t have that in there, is very important to remember, because we saved taxpayers not only huge tax increases by finding a bipartisan solution here, but we saved taxpayers from a lot of additional spending that otherwise would have occurred.
“This investment in repairing and upgrading our nation’s infrastructure will have real lasting benefits for our country, through building out hard assets that improve productivity and improve efficiency without adding to inflation. It will create hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs in industries ranging from construction and plumbing to electrical engineering and software development, with one recent study from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers finding that the legislation could create around half a million jobs by 2024. This is why every business group in America is supporting this legislation, as well as all the agricultural groups, over 30 agricultural groups, including the American Farm Bureau. It’s why the AFL-CIO Building Trades Council is supporting it, because they’re going to provide a lot of the workers for this.
“Even more importantly, given the recent economic news we have seen, is this proposal will not cause inflation to increase. As Democratic economist Larry Summers on the other side of the aisle and many of us here on the Republican side of the aisle had been warning about for months, including me, inflation is here, with prices for consumers up 5.4 percent over this time last year. And this rate of inflation, in my view, could well go up even further. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former CBO Director, now head of the American Action Forum, and conservative economist, Michael Strain, Director of Economic Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, AEI, also a conservative scholar, have said that our bipartisan infrastructure package will slow down inflation. They said, quote, ‘Improving roads, bridges, and ports would make it less costly for businesses to operate, allowing them to increase their output per hour and putting downward pressure on consumer prices.’ So I know some of my colleagues want to conflate these two, the $3.5 trillion extravaganza with huge tax increases and immediate social spending and this long-term spending we’ve talked about here, where very little of the money will go out the door even in the next year or two. They’re not the same, and I think it’s irresponsible to say they are the same.
“The bottom line is that the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will provide a historic investment in hard infrastructure with input from a bipartisan group of senators while avoiding the tax hikes that would hurt our economy, destroy jobs, and undermine our competitiveness around the world. And importantly, for the sake of future bipartisanship here in Congress, it’s an infrastructure plan that allows us to avoid the repeat of the COVID-19 spending bill, the $1.9 trillion that passed under this partisan process of reconciliation. It’s also the alternative way that we ought to operate around here instead of the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package that is coming next. It demonstrates to the American people that we can, in fact, work together to get big things done in a responsible way.
“President Biden promised to govern in a bipartisan manner in his inaugural address and in his campaign. Unfortunately, he hasn’t done that with regard to the COVID-19 package, $1.9 trillion under reconciliation, the $3.5 trillion that they are now going to attempt to pass here in this chamber. But this bipartisan package is an opportunity for all of us to fulfill that pledge, to figure out how to work together to get big things done. It’s a genuine compromise. It’s not the bill I would write. It’s not the bill my colleague, Kyrsten Sinema, would write on the Democratic side of the aisle. But it’s good for the country. It builds our core infrastructure. It doesn’t raise taxes on the American people. It will grow the economy. It will lead to more tax revenue coming into the treasury. And yet it includes responsible pay-fors. Soon I hope we will all be able to vote on final package of this legislation. As I indicated, we have already had two votes to proceed to final passage. One was 66-28, the other was 67-27. I think it’s time for us to come together and to enact this bipartisan achievement for our nation, for our economy, and for the people we represent.”