On Thursday, the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee held a hearing focused on the urgent need for a plan that invests in America’s infrastructure. The hearing, “The Cost of Doing Nothing: Why Investing in Our Nation’s Infrastructure Cannot Wait,” was led by U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio, chairman of the committee. Rep. DeFazio began the hearing stating, “We know that our infrastructure investment needs are massive. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), we have an investment gap of $2 trillion over 10 years to fix what we have, meet future needs, and restore our global competitiveness. The investment gap in surface transportation alone is over $1 trillion. The gap for water, port, and related infrastructure is $249 billion.”
As the House T&I Committee’s first hearing of the 116th Congress, it is also part of a legislative push on Capitol Hill aimed at developing and passing a broad infrastructure package. This hearing followed Tuesday’s State of the Union Address, in which President Trump identified infrastructure investment as a top priority for the second year in a row. Notably, he said, “it’s a necessity, not an option,” and asked Congress to produce an infrastructure package that invests in vital national infrastructure projects.
In Rep. DeFazio’s opening statement, he asserted, “We are starting off by sounding the alarm bells – investing in America’s infrastructure cannot wait.” ASCE’s 2017 Infrastructure Report Card echoes this alarm by assigning America’s infrastructure network with an overall grade of a “D+.” The Report Card and the 2016 economic study, Failure to Act: Closing the Infrastructure Investment Gap for America’s Economic Future, both detail the immediate need for investment and the consequences of a lack of inaction.
The hearing included testimonies from a number of leaders in freight, aviation, water, and business sectors. Witnesses included Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, speaking on behalf of the National Governors Association; Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, testifying on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Mayors; former U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood; and, President of UPS Freight, Rich McArdle, presenting on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Testimonies covered the need for investment and argued that continued lack of investment would negatively affect each infrastructure category.
The U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will also hold a hearing on infrastructure investment next week We can no longer afford to defer investment in our nation’s infrastructure. To close the $2.0 trillion 10-year investment gap, meet future need, and restore our global competitive advantage, we must increase investment from all levels of government and the private sector from 2.5% to 3.5% of U.S. We urge you reach out to your Members of Congress and tell them to put forward a long-term plan to improve our infrastructure systems.