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 full committee hearing titled, “The Administration’s framework for rebuilding infrastructure in America.”
The hearing featured testimony from the Honorable Elaine Chao, secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation; and the Honorable R.D. James, assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works.
For more information on their testimonies click here.
Senator Barrasso’s remarks:
“Today we will discuss the need to modernize our nation’s infrastructure and President Trump’s plan for rebuilding infrastructure in America.
“This committee has historically taken the bipartisan lead on infrastructure issues in the Senate.
“I am very pleased that Secretary Chao and Assistant Secretary James have come to our committee first to discuss the infrastructure principles shared by President Trump on February 12.
“Our infrastructure drives the health, well-being, economy, and prosperity of the nation.
“We depend upon it to move people and goods, to get to our jobs, to protect our homes from floods and disasters, and to provide our families with clean water.
“For too long, we have not prioritized the needs of these infrastructure systems.
“Funding has not kept pace with our infrastructure needs, and burdensome federal regulations have slowed efforts to spend the money efficiently.
“The time has come to make a significant investment in our roads, bridges, ports, and water systems.
“The administration’s plan proposes to spend hundreds of billions of dollars of federal money to generate well over $1 trillion of infrastructure impact.
“Part of this can be accomplished by cutting Washington’s red tape.
“President Trump’s plan prioritizes streamlining. This will allow needed projects to start quicker and finish faster for lower costs.
“As states, counties, and towns wait to obtain permits from Washington, costs for projects rise and time is wasted.
“It shouldn’t take a decade to permit a project that takes only months to build.
“We need to speed up project delivery.
“The president’s plan calls a two year – or less – limit for federal approvals on projects.
“That’s a commonsense approach.
“Only in Washington is two years considered a quick turnaround.
“We need regulatory streamlining so we can build these projects faster, smarter, better, and cheaper.
“The president’s plan also makes the infrastructure needs of rural America a priority.
“A significant portion of the federal money proposed in the president’s plan is designated specifically for rural states.
“Rural communities need to have an equal seat at the table as we address infrastructure needs.
“What works in Baltimore or Chicago may not work for smaller communities like Cody, Casper, or Cheyenne, Wyoming.
“We need an infrastructure plan that includes projects for both.
“Better roads and water systems across America help us all.
“Everyone benefits from safer highways and dams in rural communities.
“Any plan should have significant and sustained funding levels for rural areas.
“On the Environment and Public Works Committee we are making good bipartisan progress on legislation to address America’s water infrastructure.
“We are working side-by-side on water infrastructure legislation that we plan to pass later this year.
“We need to expand that bipartisan cooperation to roads and bridges as well.
“America prides itself on its ingenuity and commitment to provide infrastructure that meets the needs of its people.
“I believe we can work in a bipartisan way on legislation that will make our infrastructure even better.
“That process begins today by hearing more about the president’s plan.
“I would like to thank both Secretary Chao and Assistant Secretary James for joining us today and for the insights they will provide for the committee.”