WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee held a hearing entitled, “Long-term Solvency of the Highway Trust Fund: Lessons Learned from the Surface Transportation System Funding Alternatives Program and Other User-based Revenue Solutions, and How Funding Uncertainty Affects the Highway Programs.” Below is the opening statement of Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), as prepared for delivery:
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for calling this hearing today and for your ongoing commitment to a bipartisan process for the surface transportation reauthorization bill.
“I’d also like to thank our witnesses for joining us here today.
“We look forward to hearing from you regarding the current status of the Highway Trust Fund and recommendations for funding and financing solutions to address the national transportation infrastructure needs of our nation—many of which our chairman just spoke about.
“Passing a bipartisan surface transportation reauthorization bill continues to be my top priority as the Ranking Member in this committee.
“Our committee has a strong record of developing these bills in a bipartisan manner.
“We are in the process of coming together once again to develop a bill that includes input from both parties and the stakeholder community.
“From my perspective, the bill must:
- Enable long-term investment in our nation’s roads and bridges, but do so in a fiscally responsible manner, without partisan or ‘lightning rod’ pay-fors that could sink a bipartisan bill;
- We need to give flexibility—I spent the last two weeks traveling my state, as many of us did, talking with to our road and transportation sector—and flexibility is absolutely critical to our states and communities to address their unique transportation needs;
- We need to keep the federal interest focused on providing a connected network of roads and bridges to ensure that all communities and the economy can thrive. And also, safety is critical for our bridges.
- We need to facilitate the efficient delivery of projects so that we can improve the safety and resiliency of our surface transportation system; and
- And we need to drive innovation to help pave the way for the system of the future.
“I am willing to work with all of my colleagues on their goals into our bill.
“We need the give and take of this bipartisan process to produce legislation that can make it to the president’s desk.
“It will take work from all levels of government and the private sector to meet the nation’s transportation infrastructure needs. We will have to take an all hands on-deck approach.
“The Highway Trust Fund, which is the source of funding for federal surface transportation projects, is once again—as it has over the last several years—facing a cash shortfall.
“This shortfall must be addressed for us to move forward with a bill.
“We must work together to find a bipartisan, long-term solution for the trust fund shortfall.
“All who use our surface transportation system should contribute to its upkeep and expansion.
“And today, that is not the case with all of the users.
“We should consider the unique impacts on certain Americans, including those in rural areas and lower income individuals.
“We should try to minimize administrative and cost burdens.
“We also should try to provide states and other non-federal partners with options to use various financing tools.
“This is not an easy problem to solve.
“I am willing to consider various solutions so we can discuss how to pay for our nation’s infrastructure.
“Since our committee last met, President Biden has proposed a type of pay that I cautioned against in the past. I am concerned about the effect that the tax increases proposed by the administration will have on our nation’s economic growth—particularly coming out of this pandemic.
“I look forward to hearing from our witness today on an array of solutions and innovative approaches to raise revenue for the transportation needs across the nation in ways that can achieve together.
“I am committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, across the Capitol, and with the administration on this issue.
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back my time.”
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