Click here to watch Chairman Barrasso’s remarks.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), delivered the following remarks at a hearing titled “Investing in America’s Surface Transportation Infrastructure: The Need for a Multi-Year Reauthorization Bill.”
The hearing featured testimony from K. Luke Reiner, director of Wyoming Department of Transportation; Carlos M. Braceras, P.E., president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials; Max Kuney, president of Max J. Kuney Company, testifying on behalf of the Associated General Contractors of America; Vicki Arroyo, executive director of Georgetown Climate Center; and Carolann Wicks, P.E., senior policy fellow at the University of Delaware’s School of Public Policy & Administration.
For more information on witness testimony click here.
Senator Barrasso’s remarks:
“Today’s hearing is about the need for this committee to draft and pass a bipartisan highway infrastructure bill.
“Both Ranking Member Carper’s staff and my staff have been working on drafting this legislation along with all the members of this committee.
“We appreciate all the input we have received from our home states, from our fellow members, and from transportation stakeholders.
“It is our shared goal to advance a bill out of committee this summer.
“That means the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will be first out of the gate to pass a highway infrastructure bill.
“This is appropriate given this committee’s history of initiating bipartisan efforts to pass previous surface transportation bills.
“We have crumbling roads and bridges and they desperately need to be repaired or replaced.
“Projected population growth and existing congestion require states to build new capacity to meet future needs.
“Our economy is built on a well-functioning road system that allows products from rural areas to get to our population centers.
“America’s workforce uses our highways to get to the office, the factory, or to the farm.
“In 2015, the U.S. transportation system moved a daily average of about 49 million tons of freight that was worth more than 52 billion dollars.
“Annually, that’s around 18 billion tons of freight valued at over 19 trillion dollars.
“And these numbers are only going up.
“According to the Department of Transportation, by 2045, our aging roads and bridges will carry an additional 4 billion tons of freight annually.
“Our nation’s highways need to keep pace.
“The authorization of federal highway funding will expire in September of next year.
“And the Congressional Budget Office projects that the Highway Trust Fund will become insolvent sometime in 2021.
“Our roads and bridges are in need of a serious investment.
“I am working with Ranking Member Carper to advance the most substantial bipartisan highway bill ever passed by Congress.
“We – along with the other members of the committee – are working to pass a five-year highway infrastructure bill to fix our roads, our bridges, and our highways.
“If we do not pass a long-term surface transportation bill, and instead pass a series of short-term extensions, we will undermine our states’ abilities to plan for these challenges.
“That is not a good option.
“We have an obligation to get this done.
“Our highway infrastructure legislation will be for all of America.
“It will ensure both rural and urban areas have access to funding.
“That means maintaining each state’s share of highway formula funding.
“Formula funding gives each state the flexibility they need to address their specific surface transportation needs.
“Maintaining the federal highway program’s current approach of distributing over 90 percent of the funds to the states by formula is the key to this.
“Using the formula-based approach expedites the delivery of highway infrastructure spending.
“So states get the funds they need faster.
“It is a proven approach that works for everyone and should be continued.
“Our bill will also speed project delivery through streamlining.
“By cutting Washington red tape, highway projects can get done better, faster, cheaper, and smarter.
“In our legislation, we must – reduce the time it takes for federal permitting, we need to lower paperwork burdens on states, and we need to incorporate innovative construction approaches and other technologies.
“This will be the most substantial highway bill ever passed by Congress – and it needs to be paid for.
“The Environment and Public Works Committee does not have jurisdiction over revenues for the highway bill.
“Ranking Member Carper and I are going to work with other members to find ways to responsibly pay for the legislation.
“I believe highways should be paid for by their users.
“I am committed to making sure that everyone who uses the roads contributes to maintaining and improving them.
“That must include electric vehicles and other alternative fuel vehicles which will become an increasing share of the cars on the roads.
“We will also work with the other surface transportation committees including the commerce and banking committees – to include their input in the legislation as we move to the Senate floor.
“I am thankful to Ranking Member Carper for his partnership and look forward to continuing to work together with him in a bipartisan way – to pass a surface transportation infrastructure bill.
“A bill that will grow America’s economy, will improve the safety of our roads, and will enhance quality of life for the American people.”