Full Committee Markup (June 17, 2020)

2167 Rayburn House Office Building and online via videoconferencing

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0 Wednesday, June 17, 2020 @ 10:00 | Contact: Justin Harclerode 202-225-9446

Day 1 Video:

Day 2 Video:

At this markup, the Full Committee approved the Majority's partisan "My Way or the Highway" bill Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute (ANS) to H.R. 2 by a party-line vote of 35 to 25.

The Republican alternative Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute - the STARTER Act was not approved.

STARTER Act Section-by-Section Summary | Fact Sheet

For a full list of all amendments and vote results, click here.

Relevant Letters:
  • National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) outlining concerns about H.R. 2's unidentified funding sources, new regulatory hurdles, and lack of project streamlining provisions 
  • Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA) outlining concerns that H.R. 2 does not address project delays and permitting streamlining, restricts construction of infrastructure for new capacity, and lack of any "seemingly realistic approach" to funding
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce outlining a number of priorities similar to Republicans' priorities in the STARTER Act and highlighting the need for bipartisanship 
  • Portland Cement Association outlining concerns about H.R. 2's restrictions on construction of new capacity, lack of streamlining reforms, and lack of bipartisanship
  • Association of American Railroads support for the STARTER Act
  • Association of Oil Pipe Lines support for the STARTER Act's streamlining provisions
  • Associated Builders and Contractors support for the STARTER Act
  • National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS); NATSO, Representing America's Travel Centers and Truckstops; Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America (SIGMA) opposition to H.R. 2
  • American Gas Association; American Public Gas Association; Association of Oil Pipe Lines; GPA Midstream Association; Interstate Natural Gas Association of America support for project permitting reforms
  • Petroleum Marketers Association of America opposition to provisions of H.R. 2
  • Coalition of 21 manufacturers, retailers, carriers, wholesalers, exporters, importers, and industries who rely on the safe transport of lithium batteries letter in opposition to provisions of H.R. 2

    Opening remarks, as prepared, of Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO):

    Thank you, Chairman DeFazio.

    Every single one of us knows that our roads, bridges, and public transportation systems need to be fixed, improved, and modernized.

    And I really wish we were here to meet those goals. The way this Committee has proven it can successfully reauthorize these critical programs, over and over again, is through partnership – not partisanship.

    Going back through the FAST Act, MAP-21, SAFETEA-LU, TEA-21, and the 1991 law ISTEA – all of those laws came about through bipartisanship.

    Throughout this entire process, Committee Republicans were ready to bring our priorities to the table, discuss them in the context of the Majority’s priorities, and look for common ground.  And surely there was common ground to be found, including on resiliency and climate issues.  Believe it or not, Republicans don’t automatically oppose addressing these issues.  But many of us do oppose the way this particular bill goes about it – through overreaching and heavy-handed mandates.  There is a difference between addressing the issue and transforming every single core infrastructure program into a climate change program.

    As a result, we’re not marking up a bipartisan “Highway Bill” today – we’re marking up the Majority’s “My Way or the Highway Bill.”  Maybe that was inevitable, given the partisan agenda the Speaker has been pursuing throughout this Congress.

    And thanks to the Speaker’s agenda, we’re now considering a $500 billion-dollar bill that we don’t know how to pay for.  Although to pay for it with the gas tax, we’d have to double it at a time when so many Americans are struggling to make ends meet because of the pandemic.

    Thanks to the Speaker’s partisan agenda, this bill also focuses heavily on meeting the goals of the Green New Deal rather than carrying out the core functions of our infrastructure.  It includes new grant programs and mandates that are hammered onto our existing programs and siphon off funding from core programs, including those for fixing our roads and bridges.  When you add it up, $2 out of every $5 spent by this bill – $200 billion in total – is tied up in trying to meet the goals of the Green New Deal.

    The Speaker’s partisan agenda means this bill will force many communities – including rural, small, and suburban communities looking to grow – to choose transit and rail service over building roads they actually need.  That is not an exaggeration – their bill literally places restrictions on building new roads.  In many ways, this bill puts the needs of urban centers over the needs of rural America, with the largest funding percentage increases, by far, going to rail and transit.

    The bill’s top-down approach means less flexibility for states and our non-federal partners to address their priorities.

    This bill ignores the outcry from labor and business leaders who strongly support streamlining the project review process and putting in place reasonable limits and timetables – without harming environmental protections.  This is something that has support from both parties but apparently is not endorsed by the Speaker’s radical environmental allies.

    Ultimately, this bill is a costly, seismic shift in our transportation programs, at an incredibly uncertain time when no one knows whether COVID-19 will alter the way people get around.

    I believe this is the wrong bill at the wrong time.

    My Republican colleagues and I remain ready to work on a serious effort to develop a serious bipartisan bill – the same way we’re working on WRDA right now.  But like I said, this “My Way or the Highway” bill is not a serious bipartisan effort.

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