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 “Infrastructure: The Road to Recovery.”
The hearing featured testimony from Steve McGough, chairman of the American Road & Transportation Builders Association and president and chief financial officer of HCSS; Dr. Doug Holtz-Eakin, president of the American Action Forum; and the Honorable Greg Fischer, mayor of Louisville, KY and incoming president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
For more information on witness testimony click here.
Senator Barrasso’s remarks:
“Before I address the topic of today’s hearing, I do want to say a few words about what is happening in communities across our country.
“This is a time of great pain and unrest for our nation.
“Americans are outraged by the recent killings.
“Anyone who watched the video of the murder of George Floyd has to be horrified and heartbroken.
“The resulting peaceful protests about police abuse against any American citizen are important and necessary.
“Our nation needs to listen to the voices of African Americans about police brutality.
“Every American citizen deserves justice under the law.
“Some of the peaceful protests have been hijacked by violent criminals.
“The destruction, looting, and arson must stop.
“Those who commit these crimes dishonor the memory of George Floyd and they dishonor the cause for which the peaceful protesters first took to the streets.
“Now is a moment for America to come together, to listen, and to heal.
“The goal of this hearing is to examine how rebuilding America’s infrastructure will help our economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
“We will examine how bipartisan infrastructure legislation passed by this committee would stimulate economic recovery and growth.
“The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in an economic crisis.
“As Congress considers what can be done to help the economy recover, funding our nation’s infrastructure should be at the top of the list.
“Investments in highways and bridges create jobs, reduce costs of goods and services, and grows the economy.
“A Standard and Poor’s study found a $1.3 billion investment in infrastructure results in 29,000 jobs being added to the construction sector alone.
“In a story published last week in the Cowboy State Daily, University of Wyoming Economist Rob Godby explained that infrastructure construction – ‘is a tried and true way of recovering an economy that’s been impacted by a deep recession.’
“It’s clear that strong, sensible infrastructure investments create jobs and spur economic recovery.
“The Senate has bipartisan legislation ready to go.
“This committee has taken significant steps toward renewing our nation’s infrastructure investments.
“Last month, we unanimously passed two bipartisan water infrastructure bills: America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2020, and the Drinking Water Infrastructure Act of 2020.
“Together, these two bills will help create jobs and protect communities by rebuilding our aging dams, levees, ports, and drinking water systems.
“They are a perfect complement to the primary focus of today’s hearing – America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act, which this committee unanimously passed and reported last July.
“This historic highway bill authorizes $287 billion over five years from the Highway Trust Fund.
“It will provide record levels of investment to fix our roads and bridges, to create jobs, and to boost our economy.
“It will give states increased funding, and the certainty they need for planning projects.
“Now, more than ever, America needs this highway infrastructure bill to keep our economy moving ahead.
“The alternative to passing our bill, would be to rely on short-term extensions of current law.
“This would be a mistake.
“Our committee has repeatedly heard expert testimony that month-to-month extensions make it harder for states and communities to plan.
“In the past, funding uncertainties from such short-term extensions have led to project delays, cancellations, and higher costs.
“These delays would hurt our economic recovery.
“We are less than four months away from the Highway Trust Fund authorization expiring.
“This simply cannot happen – especially during these pandemic-cause economic downturns.
“To make matters worse, the Highway Trust Fund is rapidly approaching insolvency.
“Before the pandemic, the Congressional Budget Office projected the Highway Trust Fund would become insolvent sometime in 2021.
“Now, with Americans driving less, the Trust Fund will likely run out of money sooner.
“That is why I am pushing for the Senate to pass our highway infrastructure legislation.
“Our bill is the right medicine for our roads and our economy.
“It will help rural communities, it will help cities, and it will help all 50 states.
“In its 2014 special report entitled: ‘Transportation Investments in Response to Economic Downturns,’ the National Academies of Sciences’ Transportation Research Board concluded that: ‘Any future transportation stimulus program should . . . . [allocate] most funds according to established formulas.’
“Our highway bill does just that by sending nine out of every ten dollars directly to states through formula funding.
“Formulas give states the flexibility to address their own transportation needs.
“What works for coastal cities may not work for communities in the heartland.
“The formula approach is also the best method for rapidly aiding economic recovery through infrastructure investments.
“America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act will also speed up project delivery by cutting red tape and simplifying agency reviews.
“Reducing the time it takes to get environmental permits means we can get projects done, faster, cheaper, better, and smarter.
“While speeding up project delivery, our legislation will also enhance safety.
“The bill targets investments to fix our aging bridges, reduce fatalities, protect pedestrians, and help minimize vehicle-wildlife collisions.
“Ultimately, building safer, longer-lasting roads is one of the best ways to protect communities and keep our economy moving forward.
“Passing America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act, together with our two water infrastructure bills, is critical for our nation’s economic recovery.
“I look forward to hearing from today’s expert witnesses on this important topic.”