Click here to watch Chairman Barrasso’s remarks.
WASHINGTON, D.C. —Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) delivered the following remarks on the Senate floor on how America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act (ATIA) will enhance the quality of life for the American people. Barrasso is the chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW). The EPW Committee will markup America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act on July 30, 2019.
Senator Barrasso’s remarks:
“I am here today to talk about America’s highway infrastructure.
“It is important to every state, it’s important in every community, and every tribe in the country.
“Our roads, our bridges, our highways, our tunnels support America’s economic growth and our competitiveness.
“These are an essential part of everyday-life for all of America.
“We use the infrastructure when we drive to work, when we head to school, or we head off to summer vacation.
“Our economy is built on a well-functioning road system that allows products from rural areas to get transported to our population centers.
“They’re used to ship American-made products and goods from one coast to the other.
“Interstates - like I-80 in my home state of Wyoming - are critical arteries for commerce in this country.
“Our roads create jobs, they move products, and the keep our country running and going strong.
“In 2015, the United States transportation system moved a daily average of about 49 million tons of freight that was worth more than $53 billion.
“$53 billion every single day.
“Our roads and our bridges have to keep pace.
“These systems are vital to our country and they need to be taken care of.
“We must maintain, upgrade, and – where necessary - build new ones.
“Since his election, President Trump has called on Congress to act on infrastructure.
“Last year, Congress answered the president’s call by passing America’s Water Infrastructure Act.
“He signed it into law. It passed this body 99-1.
“The legislation helped streamline major projects and help keep communities safe.
“It made a significant investment in our nation’s dams, our locks, our ports and drinking water systems.
“Now is the time to do the same for our roads and for our bridges.
“That’s why today I am introducing America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act along with my fellow leaders of the Environment and Public Works Committee, Ranking Member Carper, and Senators Capito, and Cardin.
“This legislation will make a historic investment in our roads.
“It will cut Washington red tape.
“It will improve safety and will help grow the economy.
“America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act authorizes $287 billion over five years from the Highway Trust Fund.
“Of that money, $259 billion will go directly to states through highway formula funding process.
“The largest investment in America’s roads included in any highway bill ever passed by Congress.
“The legislation will help the entire country.
“It will ensure both rural and urban areas have access to funding.
“Formula funding gives each state the flexibility they need to address their specific surface transportation needs.
“The formula-based approach has a proven track record of efficiently delivering infrastructure money directly to the states.
“America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act maintains this important approach - so states get the funds they need faster.
“America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act also continues successful federal loan programs – like the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, that many people know as TIFIA.
“TIFIA and programs like it get taxpayers significant bang for their buck.
“A single taxpayer dollar in the TIFIA program can leverage 40 times that much in terms of infrastructure spending.
“Between new authorizations, leveraging within federal loan programs, state-match requirements, and likely additions from the Commerce and Banking Committees, our bill’s total impact on infrastructure will be nearly half a trillion dollars – a historic high.
“With these investments, it is critical for us to speed up government approvals for important projects.
“Last Congress, the Environment and Public Works Committee heard testimony about a highway safety project in Wyoming that took a decade to permit but actually only took months to build.
“That has to stop.
“That was a safety project held up for ten years because of Washington permits.
“America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act cuts Washington red tape – so projects can get done faster, better, cheaper and smarter.
“President Trump has set a goal for his administration of completing environmental reviews for projects within two years.
“It’s a goal that I applaud.
“This policy is called ‘One Federal Decision.’
“Our legislation makes key elements of that policy into law.
“Instead of several federal agencies having duplicate requirements on the same project, the process will be simplified because it needs to be simplified.
“Our bill gives states increased flexibility, so federal approvals can get moving and project construction can get started.
“It will also reduce the amount of paperwork needed from states to complete a project.
“Our legislation will get long-delayed safety projects moving faster.
“Washington shouldn’t prioritize paperwork over people’s safety.
“America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act makes road safety a top priority.
“It supports innovative research and technology deployment, including new construction technologies that will make roads safer and expedite project delivery.
“For example, the bill supports technologies that allow construction projects to be managed digitally.
“That will enable project managers to better track projects from design, to operation.
“When a car collides with an animal on a highway, the results can be dramatic and sometimes even deadly – for both the animal and the driver.
“Our bill creates a pilot program to build wildlife highway crossings, to minimize the danger of vehicle-wildlife collisions.
“Across the country, aging bridges are in need of maintenance.
“Our bill establishes a competitive grant program to help address the backlog of bridges in poor condition.
“Our bill establishes a new program to incentivize states to lower the total number of fatalities with a special focus on pedestrian deaths, which are on the rise.
“The climate is changing and humans have a collective responsibility to do something about it.
“I believe that American innovation, not government regulation is the answer to address a changing climate.
“Our bill includes a climate change title that ensures the durability of our transportation infrastructure, and provides flexible resources to help states reduce carbon emissions.
“It will help states build more resilient highways.
“We want to make sure our roads and bridges are built to withstand extreme weather events like hurricanes and floods or natural disasters like wildfires, earthquakes, and rock slides.
“The legislation will also help reduce transportation-related carbon emissions.
“The very successful bill that had been signed into law previously and is expiring –Diesel Emissions Reduction Act.
“This is a program that has helped communities in Wyoming replace aging school busses and public equipment.
“This Diesel Emissions Reduction Act helps reduce black carbon emissions.
“That’s one of the biggest contributors to climate change.
“Our bill reauthorizes this program and supports innovation.
“Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Sequestration technologies hold the key to major emission reductions.
“I have introduced the USE IT Act along with my colleagues in the Senate to support this important research, and it is included it in this bill.
“As I have stated, this is a bipartisan bill.
“It doesn’t just include Republican priorities, it includes Democrat priorities as well.
“For example, the legislation will establish grant programs to help fund the construction of electric vehicle charging stations and infrastructure for other alternative fuel vehicles such as natural gas.
“This provision has been a priority for several Senators including Ranking Member Carper.
“My priority is to make sure these vehicles are contributing to the maintenance of our roads.
“With a rapidly growing electric vehicle market, it is necessary to make sure drivers of these alternative fuel vehicles are contributing to road maintenance.
“Nearly every automaker is ramping up electric vehicle production.
“Right now, none of these vehicles pay to maintain America’s roads.
“The highway trust fund is funded through fuel taxes, these vehicles simply do not contribute because they don’t buy gasoline.
“An electric vehicle does as much damage to our highways as a traditional gas-powered vehicle.
“Everyone who drives on our nation’s roads should contribute to the cost of road maintenance.
“Our bill is bipartisan and substantial – 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 will work closely with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and Ranking Member Ron Wyden to responsibly pay for this legislation.
“We have received extensive feedback in the process of writing this legislation.
“From experts, from our home states, and from other senators.
“The bill has already received broad support from groups like the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufactures, the American Highway Users Alliance, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, the American Council of Engineering Companies, the National Stone, Sand, and Gravel Association, the North American Concrete Alliance, and many more.
“We plan to markup America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act this week.
“The business meeting will be a great opportunity to strengthen the legislation and move this important process forward.
“I am thankful to Ranking Member Carper and all the members of our committee for working with me on this important piece of legislation.
“America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act will grow the nation’s economy, will improve the safety of our roads, and will enhance quality of life for American people.”