Honorable Kasim Reed, Mayor, City of Atlanta; on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Mayors | Written Testimony
Mr. Lawrence Hanley, International President, Amalgamated Transit Union | Written Testimony
CHAIRMAN BILL SHUSTER (R-PA)
COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE
HEARING ON “BUILDING THE FOUNDATION FOR SURFACE TRANSPORTATION REAUTHORIZATION”
JANUARY 14, 2014
(REMARKS AS PREPARED)
Welcome to the first hearing of the Committee this year, on a subject of critical importance to the Nation and the economy.
Transportation is important – how people get to work, get their children to school, go to stores to buy food, clothing and other necessities, and how they visit family and friends.
It’s also about business. Transportation is a critical part of how the supply chain functions, how raw materials get to factories, how finished products get to markets, and how food gets from farms to our kitchens. It allows American businesses to be competitive in the global marketplace and for our economy to prosper and grow.
There is a long history of a strong federal role in transportation. As I’ve pointed out before, Adam Smith, the father of modern economics, said the three duties of government are to provide security, preserve justice, and erect and maintain public works to facilitate commerce. Article 1, Section 8 of our Constitution provided the Federal Government with the authority to regulate interstate commerce and establish a national system of post roads.
The Federal Government has continued to invest in transportation over the centuries, from the Transcontinental Railroad to the Panama Canal to the Interstate Highway System.
Last Congress, we continued this history by passing MAP-21, which reauthorized federal surface transportation programs.
MAP-21 expires at the end of September. My hope is to get reauthorization done on time. In order to do that, the Committee’s work is ramping up.
Today, we are formally kicking off our reauthorization process with this hearing.
In the coming months, we plan to hold more hearings and roundtable discussions to give stakeholders an opportunity to share their policy priorities and concerns. We hope to take Committee action in the late spring or early summer with the goal to be on the House floor before the August recess. This way there will be time to conference our bill with the Senate’s bill.
This bill needs to be a bipartisan effort. We need to build consensus and work together to get it done.
The next bill must ensure that our surface transportation system can continue to support the U.S. economy and provide Americans with a good quality of life. This bill is about providing a strong physical platform for U.S. companies to compete at home and abroad. It’s about making sure that Americans don’t waste countless hours sitting in traffic away from their families and friends. It’s about making sure that we can purchase the goods and services that we’ve come to rely on in our daily lives.
This bill is about jobs – not just construction jobs, but jobs in other sectors like manufacturing and agriculture.
So, how do we get there?
This bill will be built around key principles. To highlight a few, this bill needs to be fiscally responsible and to build on the reforms in MAP-21. We need to continue to reduce regulatory burdens. And we need to make sure our federal partners have flexibility in how they spend their money and approve projects.
We also need to focus on freight mobility. Chairman Duncan’s special panel on freight wrapped up its work in October. The Panel has provided us with a lot of good recommendations that we need to take a hard look at.
We can’t afford to be stuck in the past or we’ll be left behind. We should encourage our federal partners to think outside the box on how to address our transportation challenges. So, we need to promote innovation and lay the foundation for emerging technologies.
By passing the next surface transportation bill, we can ensure Americans quality of life and facilitate economic growth for years to come.