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 “Better, Faster, Cheaper, Smarter, and Stronger: Infrastructure Development Opportunities to Drive Economic Recovery and Resiliency.”
The hearing featured testimony from Jason Grumet, president of the Bipartisan Policy Center; Robert Lanham, Jr., president of the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) Board 2020 and president of Williams Brothers Construction Co., Inc.; and Christy Goldfuss, senior vice president of Energy and Environment policy at the Center for American Progress.
For more information on witness testimony click here.
Senator Barrasso’s remarks:
“Investing in America’s infrastructure is critical, as our economy recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.
“Last month, we held a hearing on how rebuilding our highways and bridges will create jobs, will reduce the cost of goods and services, and will drive our nation’s economic recovery.
“Today, we will examine how America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act will help build roads and bridges faster, better, cheaper, smarter, and stronger.
“Three months from today, the surface transportation authorization will expire.
“This cannot be allowed to happen – especially during this pandemic-caused economic downturn.
“To make matters worse, the Highway Trust Fund is rapidly approaching insolvency.
“Prior to the pandemic, the Congressional Budget Office projected the Highway Trust Fund would run out of money in mid-2021.
“Now, with Americans driving less, the Highway Trust Fund will reach insolvency far sooner than first predicted.
“The time for Congress to pass meaningful, bipartisan infrastructure legislation is now.
“Last year, this committee approved historic and bipartisan highway infrastructure legislation.
“We worked together across the aisle to pass a bipartisan bill that greenlights broad, widely supported ideas.
“Democrats in the House – on the other hand – put up a partisan stop sign.
“The House Democrats’ transportation bill stands in sharp contrast to our own.
“House Democrats cut their Republican counterparts out of the process and wrote a completely partisan bill.
“That’s why, after a 36-hour markup, it received no Republican votes in committee.
“By comparison, this committee unanimously passed our highway bill in less than an hour.
“The House Democrats’ partisan bill is a road to nowhere.
“Instead, Congress should pass the Senate’s bipartisan legislation and send it to President Trump’s desk for his signature.
“America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act will provide record levels of investment.
“$287 billion dollars will be available over five years to fix our roads and bridges, to create jobs, and to boost our economy.
“The legislation increases funding for all states and tribes, cuts red tape, and protects the environment.
“It will also increase needed certainty for states and communities to plan, permit, and build infrastructure projects.
“Given the unprecedented economic damage inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic, we must assure infrastructure projects are not needlessly delayed.
“The environmental review process is important and necessary.
“It can also cause unnecessary delays.
“Delays increase costs, limit private investment, and they hurt the American worker.
“America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act will speed up project delivery by cutting red tape and simplifying agency reviews.
“Reducing the time it takes to get environmental permits is essential for building new highways and repairing existing ones.
“To improve the permitting process, the bill increases predictability, accountability, transparency, and flexibility.
“From 2010 to 2017, the Federal Highway Administration completed environmental impact statements for 114 highway projects.
“On average, it took almost seven years to complete each of those environmental reviews.
“America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act sets a goal to complete the process in just two years.
“The bill also requires federal agencies to establish a unified schedule and empowers the project’s lead agency to coordinate the entire permitting process.
“These are key elements of the ‘One Federal Decision’ policy.
“The legislation will also ensure America’s infrastructure is more resilient.
“Our roads and bridges must be strong enough to handle extreme weather events like hurricanes and floods.
“At the same time, our highways must withstand natural disasters such as wildfires, earthquakes, and rockslides.
“America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act provides nearly $5 billion to help protect our roads and bridges from natural disasters and extreme weather events.
“More durable, longer lasting roads are safer, last longer, and more efficient for everyone.
“Passing America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act into law is critical for our nation’s economic recovery.
“It will ensure better, faster, cheaper, smarter, and stronger projects.
“I look forward to hearing from today’s witnesses on this important topic.”