The Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure held its first hearing of the 113th Congress on Feb. 13 focusing on the importance of infrastructure to the U.S. economy and examining the role played by the federal government in ensuring safe, efficient, and reliable infrastructure.
“Transportation is important,” committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) said. “It’s about people and how they live their lives. It’s also about business. An efficient national transportation network lowers production costs and enhances productivity and profits. And it is about America. Our national transportation system binds us together. Working together in the 113th Congress, the committee will focus on strengthening America’s national transportation network to make us more efficient, more competitive and more prosperous. This is an important responsibility of government — especially the federal government.”
A panel of three witnesses underscored the need for a continued federal role and the essential role of transportation to the economy. Building America’s Future co-chair and former Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell, U.S. Chamber of Commerce president & CEO Thomas J. Donohue, and Laborers’ International Union of North America general president Terry O’Sullivan testified.
“Without an overriding national vision and network, America’s transportation infrastructure would resemble a patchwork of disconnected roads and rails; our aviation system would be untenable; goods movement would be greatly hindered; and the electric grid would be a disconnected system in each of the 50 states,” Rendell noted. And all of this would cost businesses and consumers billions of dollars.”
Donohue highlighted the importance of remaining competitive in the global marketplace. “Markets outside of our borders represent 80% of the world’s purchasing power, 92% of its economic growth, and 95% of its consumers,” Donohue said. “They are accessed through transportation networks. More than 38 million American jobs depend on trade.
“The bottom line is that the U.S. cannot miss any opportunities to ignite economic growth, improve our global competitiveness, and create jobs,” Donohue said. “Quality transportation infrastructure unleashes competitive advantage by leading to lower production costs making U.S. businesses more efficient, making the United States a desirable location for new and existing businesses, and also making U.S.-produced goods and service more competitive in the global economy.”
O’Sullivan noted that infrastructure is not a partisan issue. “Taking care of America’s infrastructure is a core function and responsibility of the federal government with its origins in the Constitution and I congratulate and commend this committee for addressing these issues at its first hearing. It’s a responsibility we must live up to,” O’Sullivan said. “This isn’t a Republican issue or a Democratic issue. There isn’t a single American who doesn’t benefit from and doesn’t want good roads and safe bridges, clean drinking water and efficient airports, waterways, abundant energy and good jobs.”
For more information from the hearing, including full written statements from the witnesses and video of the hearing, go to http://transportation.house.gov/hearing/federal-role-america%E2%80%99s-infrastructure.