Click here or the image above to watch Ranking Member Capito’s opening remarks from the committee hearing.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee held a hearing titled, “Putting the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to Work: The Private Sector Perspective.”
Below is the opening statement of Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.).
“As the chairman has said, we just passed the one-year mark since the president signed the IIJA.
“And we promised the American people that this would deliver results by improving and expanding our nation’s core transportation infrastructure, and we are really starting to see some of the real tangible benefits.
“Road and bridge projects are underway. We have a lot of those orange and white cones going in West Virginia. States have received a second round of historic levels of funding through their core highway formula programs, and discretionary grants are beginning to be awarded.
“But, there is still so much work to be done.
“Agency deadlines are piling up and we are still waiting for significant sections of the law to be implemented by DOT, mainly the project delivery title to cut down delays and red tape.
“This committee has the responsibility of [ensuring] proper implementation of the IIJA…and we’ve had several hearings with others to see how that’s going.
“This is an important voice that we are going to hear today in this conversation.
“Our panel represents, as the chairman says, a diverse range of individuals. I thank all of you for coming.
“You all are the ones who have the boots literally on the ground.
“Our witnesses represent companies that are being awarded projects funded by the IIJA, which means they are perfectly positioned to provide the committee additional, real-world perspectives on how things are going.
“Just yesterday this committee voice-voted out in favor of Shailen Bhatt’s nomination to be administrator of the Federal Highway Administration.
“This is critical, I think. And a critical position for the implementation of the IIJA. The agency has been without a Senate-confirmed administrator for far too long.
“An if he’s confirmed by the full Senate, which I expect that he will be, I hope that he will grab the reins quickly and move to approve some of the issues that have already come to light.
“Through his leadership, I expect that the agency will begin to execute the law as Congress had intended, which he committed to do in front of this very committee.
“Through public hearings and private conversations with [DOT] leadership, and letters, certain members of this committee have called on FHWA to stop pursuing policies that outright contradict the IIJA statutory text.
“This includes the December 16 FHWA memorandum to staff entitled ‘Policy on Using the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Resources to Build a Better America’ and various other programmatic guidance documents.
“FHWA should instead more expeditiously work to implement all provisions of the law as written, the project delivery title, including the One Federal Decision policy.
“The agency should focus on the bipartisan enacted provisions of the IIJA that will address climate change, and there are many in there, and improve the resilience of our transportation infrastructure, instead of undertaking unauthorized, unilateral partisan actions like a rulemaking to establish a greenhouse gas emissions performance measure and associated targets for state DOTs and metropolitan planning organizations.
"To me, as I read that, as I say that, that just is delay, delay, delay.
“Today, I am also interested in how the current construction landscape is impacting the historic investment provided.
“Inflation is still high and impacting supply chain challenges, and with this looming rail strike, it’s a whole another issue that I think puts a lot of pressure on system.
“I continue to hear the labor shortages are making it hard for companies to bid on projects and then move them through to completion on-time and on-budget.
“With the recent expiration of DOT’s Waiver of Buy America Requirements for Construction Materials, I understand there are inconsistencies amongst states on the implementation of that policy. Certainly had that conversation myself with our constituents in Wets Virginia.
“I look forward to hearing from you on:
- What programs and policies are most beneficial in putting this investment to work?
- What is going well regarding implementation?
- What isn’t going well? What is making it more challenging to bid on projects and bringing them to conclusion?
“The IIJA, the bipartisan infrastructure package, included unprecedented investments to address the needs of our nation’s core [transportation] infrastructure, proper implementation of the law is the only way that the funding will uphold those promises that were made to the American people with its passage.
"Thank you so much for being here and I look forward to your testimony.”
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