Davis Route 66 Bill Passes House
Davis speaks in support of H.R. 66. Click here to watch the full video.
U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) released the following statement after his bill, H.R. 66, the Route 66 Centennial Commission Act, unanimously passed the House of Representatives. The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.
"Route 66 is a symbol of American independence and prosperity, a critical part of our economy, and it's important to preserve it for future generations," Davis said. "I would like to thank my colleagues for their support of this bill. I am proud to have part of this historic highway running through my district and I will continue to work to ensure Route 66 is ready for its 100th anniversary in 2026 and for years to come."
Davis spoke in support of H.R. 66 on the House floor. Below are his remarks as written.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 66, the Route 66 Centennial Commission Act. I would like to thank my colleague, Representative Grace Napolitano, for sponsoring this legislation with me, and also Chairman Shuster and Ranking Member DeFazio for helping shepherd this bill to the floor.
I am proud to have Route 66 run through the middle of my district and I believe it’s important we celebrate the history of Route 66.
In 1926, Route 66 became our Nation’s first all- paved highway under the U.S. Highway System, connecting Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California. Early on, the road was used by hundreds-of-thousands of Americans seeking escape from the Dust Bowl, and provided critical employment opportunities for road crews paving the road during the Great Depression.
During World War II, the highway transported troops, equipment and supplies to military bases across our country, and was used after the war by thousands of troops returning home to their families. By the 1950s, Route 66 began to see a rise in tourism and became the true symbol of the American freedom and independence we all know today.
In April of last year, I went on an extended tour of Illinois’ stretch of the highway with my colleague Representative Darin LaHood and many state and local leaders. I had the opportunity to see the economic impact the Mother Road brings to Illinois, supporting many jobs and key economic activity in small towns, helping generate important revenue to support our communities.
For example, travelers along Route 66 can see a giant pink elephant statue and other larger than life sculptures at the Pink Elephant Antique Mall in Livingston. They can see a movie at the Wildey Theater in Edwardsville, which originally opened in 1909. Or stop for all-day breakfast at Jungle Jim’s Café, a quintessential roadside diner in Springfield.
These are just a few of the thousands of local businesses along Route 66 whose livelihood depends on the historic highway.
You don’t even have to be in a car to ride along Route 66. The Illinois Route 66 Trail is a system of off-road paths for bikes, hikers, or anyone else looking to see the Mother Road a different way.
The centennial of Route 66 will be an international celebration and the state of Illinois will be ready to welcome travelers from around the world who want to experience the history and magic of this scenic byway.
H.R. 66 will create a 19-member Commission to recommend activities to honor the 100th anniversary of Route 66 in the year 2026.
It also directs the U.S. Department of Transportation to develop a plan to ensure the first-all-paved U.S. highway connecting the Midwest to California will be preserved for many years to come. In doing this, the Secretary of Transportation will work with the Governors of the eight states this historic highway passes through to develop a comprehensive preservation plan.
H.R. 66 is endorsed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership, the National Historic Route 66 Federation, Auto Club Enterprises (also known as Triple A), and the Route 66 Alliance.
Throughout its history, Route 66 has become more than just a way to get from Point A to Point B. It has evolved into a symbol of American independence and prosperity.
I am proud to help continue the legacy of Route 66, and I urge my colleagues to vote yes on H.R. 66.