T&I Members Question Secretary Buttigieg on IIJA Implementation, EV Policies, High-Speed Rail Funding & More at Oversight Hearing
At today’s daylong oversight hearing, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee questioned U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on a range of issues, including inflationary impacts on Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) funds, electric vehicles (EVs) and EV infrastructure policies, supply chain and energy issues, high-speed rail project cost overruns, air traffic control and aviation workforce issues, project permitting issues, and more. The hearing marked the first time Secretary Buttigieg testified before the T&I Committee in more than a year.
Highlights from today’s hearing can be found below:
Highways and Transit Subcommittee Chairman Rick Crawford (R-AR): “You’ve obligated less than 30 percent of the total funding for the Federal Transit Administration. In fact, you’ve only outlaid 9.7 percent of that funding. Less than three percent of the money for the Federal Railroad Administration has been outlaid. Only 35 percent of the FY22 [fiscal year 2022] money for federal aid highways has been obligated, and only 11 percent has been outlaid. So, we continue to hear about the need for more money for infrastructure investment, but it seems that you’re not spending the money you have already…”
Rep. Pete Stauber (R-MN): “According to Kelley Blue Book, the average price for electric cars was over $53,000… My constituents would have to work a full year to pay for this unreliable car and would barely have enough left over to care for their family. What is the average median income of a single individual EV [electric vehicle] buyer? It’s $150,000…
“Do you think that it’s fair for your Administration to force constituents to purchase these electric vehicles when they’re not working, especially in northern Minnesota?... By 2035 you want two-thirds of Americans to be using electric vehicles. They don’t work in northern Minnesota in the cold weather today.”
Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee Chairman Troy Nehls (R-TX): “This document is nothing more than an SOS warning to cancel the California High-Speed Rail project because it’s riddled with billions in cost overruns. The numbers in this document almost make it seem criminal… The report recommends that the legislature may want to request the selection and appointment of the Inspector General be given high priority. This project needs to be looked at. This is billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money. It’s my understanding now they want three billion [dollars] more… and I want to make sure, sir, we’re not throwing good money after bad.”
Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Garret Graves (R-LA): “…I heard during IIJA [Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act] debate and, of course, it being signed into law, all these people celebrating the increase in investment. Mr. Secretary, if project costs are tripling… it’s hard for me to understand how this is a win with all the other investments that were made, spending trillions and trillions of dollars that devalued the dollar that have contributed to energy costs going up. And now, we can’t even build the projects we were building before. And the way I look at it is any perceived increase in investment under IIJA is actually a decrease based on what we’re seeing at home…”
Rep. Mike Bost (R-IL): “I saw that you took a trip to highlight the infrastructure projects related to truck parking…. In addition, your Department announced 86 new grants last week, and of those 86 grants, only four even mentioned truck parking, and they have to do with IT systems at truck stops. You’ve created zero additional truck parking locations even with the record amount of money that was given to you in the infrastructure bill that we passed. You haven’t done anything substantial to expand new truck parking locations, so the problem still exists. What do you plan to do about fixing the problem?”
Rep. John James (R-MI): “With the President’s unrealistic projection for electric vehicle sales in the future, 67 percent by the year 2032, affecting the profitability of these [automotive] plants is going to take dollars away from auto workers. They approximate formulas is about $1,000 per auto worker for $1 billion for the auto makers. If penalties are levied on the auto makers, then this will take money away from the autoworkers. Is the President aware that he’s literally taking money away from UAW workers by impugning their bonuses?”
Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-NY): “As of July 2023, Amtrak has only brought 30 percent of their 385 stations its responsible for into ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] compliance. Yet, we continue to fund Amtrak’s investment to move ADA projects. In fact, IIJA itself included an additional $1.74 billion. Can you commit to the Department to more aggressively enforcing Amtrak’s necessity to meet the ADA requirements?”
Click here for a list of the Committee’s Biden Administration oversight actions.
More information about the hearing, including a link to the webcast and witness testimony, can be found here.