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Klobuchar, Franken laud passage of transportation bill that includes student loan rate extension

The federal transportation bill was passed by the Senate Friday and heads to the president for his signature.

The federal transportation bill, passed by the Senate Friday and headed to the president for his signature, was praised by both of Minnesota’s senators.

In addition to procuring $700 million for Minnesota transporation and infrastructure projects, it also includes the one-year extension of the subsidized Stafford Loan interest rate and a five-year extension of the National Flood Insurance Program.

Said Franken:

“This bill has a lot of good things in it – it will create jobs, strengthen Buy America requirements that will help Minnesota’s Iron Range, help keep college affordable by  preventing subsidized Stafford loan rates from doubling, provide flood insurance for many Minnesotans, and take steps to prevent the spread of Asian Carp – but it’s far from perfect, and I’m disappointed that it didn’t include my bipartisan amendment that would have helped repair many bridges across Minnesota, employing even more construction workers. While I’m pleased that we passed this legislation, I’m going to continue to fight to improve Minnesota’s infrastructure and put people back to work.”

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Klobuchar focused on the transportation/infrastructure benefits in her statement, saying it provides for “critical investments in Minnesota’s roads, bridges, transit, congestion mitigation projects, and mobility improvements.”

She said she had four amendments incorporated into the final bill:

  • Agriculture Hours-of-Service: restores the Agriculture Hours-of-Service exemption across the full food and farm supply chain, making it easier for farmers to transport goods and get products to the market during critical planting and harvesting seasons.
  • Recreational Trails Program: continues the Recreational Trails Program, which had been cut from the original Surface Transportation legislation. The program helps maintain recreational trails for snowmobilers and outdoor enthusiasts in Minnesota and across the country.
  • Improving Safety on High Risk Rural Roads: establishes best practices to highlight cost-effective roadway safety infrastructure improvements on high-risk rural roads to reduce crashes that result in fatalities or severe injury. Rural roads have a traffic fatality rate that is more than three times higher than all other roads.
  • Improving Rural Transportation Planning: gives local officials in rural communities greater say in making transportation planning and spending decisions.