WASHINGTON, D.C. —Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) delivered the following remarks on the Senate floor on how the Senate is ready to answer President Trump’s call to pass America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act (ATIA). Barrasso is the chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW).
Senator Barrasso’s remarks:
“During his State of the Union Address, President Trump called on Congress to rebuild America’s infrastructure.
“He specifically asked Congress to pass America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act ‘to invest in new roads, bridges, and tunnels all across our land.’
“The Senate is ready to answer President Trump’s call.
“America’s roads and bridges are important to every state, every community, and every tribe in the nation.
“The quality of our roads affects everyone.
“Our economy is built on a well-functioning road system that allows products from rural areas like Utah, like Wyoming, to get to our population centers.
“Interstates like I-80 in my home state of Wyoming are critical arteries of commerce.
“America’s roads create American jobs, move American products, and they fuel America’s economy.
“In 2015, the U.S. transportation system moved a daily average of roughly 49 million tons of freight.
“That’s an average of $53 billion worth of freight every single day.
“The quality of our roads has to keep pace.
“We must maintain, upgrade, and where necessary, build America’s highway infrastructure.
“Last July, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee – which I chair - unanimously passed America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act.
“The vote was 21 to zero.
“I introduced this bipartisan bill with fellow leaders on the committee, Ranking Member Carper, Senators Capito and Cardin.
“Our legislation will make a historic investment in our roads.
“America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act authorizes $287 billion over five years from the Highway Trust Fund.
“The largest investment in America’s roads included in any highway bill ever passed by Congress.
“Our bill will help the economy and the entire country.
“Senators on our committee represent rural areas like Wyoming, Iowa, and Alaska, and urban areas like New York, Chicago, and Baltimore.
“America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act is a win for them all.
“Over 90 percent of the money in our legislation will go to states through highway formula funding.
“Formula funding gives each state the flexibility to address their specific surface transportation needs.
“The formula-based approach has been very successful in the past in effectively and efficiently delivering infrastructure money to states, where they can make decisions as to which projects to pursue.
“America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act maintains this important approach - so states get the funds they need.
“America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act also expands successful federal loan leveraging programs.
“A single taxpayer dollar in one of these federal loan programs can leverage 40 times that much in actual infrastructure spending.
“Between new authorizations, leveraging programs, state-match requirements, and input from other committees, our bill’s total impact on infrastructure will be nearly half a trillion dollars.
“America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act is momentous – and it must to be responsibly paid for.
“When our committee passed the legislation, it included a commitment that the bill should be paid for.
“The Environment and Public Works Committee does not have jurisdiction over the revenues for the highway bill.
“I am working closely with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley to make sure this legislation is paid for.
“There is no silver bullet.
“We will need to find multiple sources of revenue.
“One thing Democrats and Republicans agree on is that the people who use the roads should contribute to maintaining them.
“This must include drivers of electric vehicles.
“Right now, drivers of electric vehicles contribute nothing to the Highway Trust Fund.
“If these electric vehicles were contributing at a rate comparable to drivers in my home state of Wyoming, it would generate billions of dollars for road maintenance over the next decade.
“Electric vehicle fees alone won’t pay for this legislation, but it’s an important start.
“I am going to continue to work with Chairman Grassley to find responsible ways to pay for this legislation.
“It is time to make a historic investment in America’s roads and bridges.
“America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act will grow our economy, will improve the safety of our roads, and will enhance quality of life for the American people.”
On July 30, 2019, the EPW Committee unanimously advanced S. 2302, America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act of 2019. The bill authorizes $287 billion over five years, including $259 billion for formula programs to maintain and repair America’s roads and bridges. ATIA includes provisions to codify key elements of President Trump’s “One Federal Decision” policy to streamline project delivery and federal approvals. The legislation also includes provisions to improve road safety, protect the environment, and grow the economy.