[Congressional Record Volume 158, Number 64 (Tuesday, May 8, 2012)]
[Pages H2331-H2332]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from 
Oregon (Mr. Blumenauer) for 5 minutes.
  Mr. BLUMENAUER. Mr. Speaker, last week an outstanding group of young 
men and women from Portland, Oregon's Lincoln High School placed first 
in the ``We the People Competition,'' a contest sponsored by the 
Classroom Law Project. It is an extraordinary program that allows young 
men and women to dive deeply into the constitutional process, the 
legislative process, and understand what it all means for contemporary 
America in an all-too-often dysfunctional political arena.
  Over the years, it's been my privilege to work with instructors and 
students on these programs, to have watched them prepare, particularly 
in Portland High Schools Lincoln and Grant that have vied for the State 
title for more than 2 dozen years, and of course the national contest 
as well.
  This is testimony to a dedicated core of teachers and citizen 
volunteers, often prominent judges and lawyers, and alumni of the 
program who continue their involvement long after they cease to be 
students. A special shout-out this year to Lincoln instructor Tim 
Swinehart, local attorney Steve Griffith and his volunteer team, and 
the extraordinarily supportive principal, Peyton Chapman.
  As I met with the Lincoln team earlier this spring in preparation for 
the national championships, it was clear to me that this was a stellar 
team even by the standards of this terrific program. That they won this 
year with a team largely composed of sophomores makes it all the more 
an extraordinary accomplishment. I would willingly grant them voting 
privileges here in Congress. They actually would fit right in and I 
think do an excellent job.
  I urge my colleagues to become acquainted with their local high 
school constitution competition. I hope the day will come when Congress 
again gives the financial support to the Classroom Law Project for the 
civic education that today is so important and so critical to preparing 
students to participate as citizens. You, like me, will feel better 
about the future of the Republic because of the result.
  One way Congress could honor the hard work of the young people who 
are the future of our country would be for us to get down to business 
in enacting legislation that improves the country they will inherit. 
One piece of legislation all teed up and ready to go is H.R. 4321, the 
Heavy Truck Fairness Act of 2012, that I've been working on for a 
number of years. I have been pleased to introduce it in this Congress 
with my friend and colleague, Jim Gerlach, from Pennsylvania.
  This legislation would be deficit neutral, according to the CBO. It 
would convert the current 12 percent excise tax on heavy trucks and 
trailers in a revenue-neutral way with an equivalent increase in the 
truck fuel tax. One of the immediate benefits would be to provide 
stability to a highly volatile revenue source for the highway trust 
fund. This large, upfront 12 percent tax on new trucks and equipment is 
highly sensitive to changes in technology requirements and the economy. 
Replacing it instead with a slight increase in the fuel tax for the 
industry would smooth out the revenues for the Federal Government, 
while it would remove a huge disincentive for upgrading equipment for 
America's trucking fleets.
  It would represent a significant increase in business for the people 
who manufacture this equipment because it would remove a 12% financial 
disincentive. It would provide extra American manufacturing and sales, 
like at a local freightliner truck manufacturing facility in my 
district. It would allow people who operate a fleet of any size, 
whether a one-truck operation or a large national trucking company, to 
reduce their costs with newer, more fuel-efficient engines that would 
reduce day-to-day maintenance, and reduce fuel costs. They would break 
down less often, and they would also produce less air pollution and 
fewer carbon emissions. It's hard to think of something that would be a 
better expression of our responsibility to boost the American economy, 
save energy, reduce emissions, and benefit so many people--from those 
who manufacture,

[[Page H2332]]

to those who sell and service, to the people who operate, and, yes, the 
customers of America's fleet of trucks. Everybody benefits, and we end 
up with a highway trust fund that is more stable and predictable over 
  I sincerely hope that this is a provision that can find its way into 
law this year, maybe as early as the transportation conference 
committee, or in the elaborate dance that will surround the treatment 
of the expiring tax provisions later this year. Whatever the 
legislative vehicle, we ought to make the vehicles in America's fleet 
less expensive and more efficient.