June 09, 2021

Chair DeFazio Opening Statement During Markup of the INVEST in America Act

Washington, D.C. — The following are opening remarks, as prepared for delivery, from Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) during today’s committee markup. Video of his opening statement is here. More information on the markup can be found here, and additional information on the INVEST in America Act can be found here.

Chair DeFazio:

Today, the Committee meets to consider H.R. 3684, the “Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America (INVEST in America) Act.”

America’s surface transportation infrastructure is in crisis. Our roads, bridges, public transit and rail systems are badly outdated, causing stress and safety hazards for our citizens, strain on our economy, and an enormous toll on public health and our planet. At the same time, other nations are out-investing us, and moving people and goods faster, cleaner, and better than ever.

For years, Congress has bypassed solving the toughest problems, allowing the transportation system to fall farther and farther into disrepair and dysfunction while not meeting the mobility and access needs of the American people.

This all changes with the INVEST in America Act. I am proud to bring the committee together today to consider this transformational bill.

The INVEST in America Act provides the resources—$547 billion—to catapult our country into a new era of smarter, safer, more resilient infrastructure that fits our evolving economy and society.

These federal dollars mean good family-wage jobs that can’t be outsourced, and support for American manufacturing through the robust Buy America standards. 

But it’s not just how much we invest, but how we invest these funds that will determine whether an infrastructure bill moves our nation in the right direction. As I’ve said many times, we have to move beyond Eisenhower 8.0. 

The transformational INVEST in America Act focuses on investing in the outcomes that are possible under a renewed vision:

  • a safer, more equitable transportation network for all users,
  • a cleaner transportation footprint and less carbon pollution,
  • well-trained and well-paid workers who are ready for new technologies,
  • underserved communities whose voices are heard and whose needs are met,
  • transportation systems planned around what truly matters to people—greater and easier access to jobs and essential services,
  • more efficient mobility utilizing innovation, and
  • safe, resilient assets—in good repair—that are built to last.

These are not aspirational principles. These are real policy changes and real shifts in how we invest that are woven throughout the INVEST in America Act.

Many of these principles overlap with the American Jobs Plan. I am eager to advance these shared goals on surface transportation, and this bill marks an important step in that process. 

But in the immediate term, surface transportation programs expire in three months. It is my intention to pass this surface bill through the House and have a formal conference with the Senate, in regular order, before the end of September.

I would like to thank Ranking Member Graves for his partnership on one very important element of this bill—Member Designated Projects. Through a highly transparent, equitable process, we have provided Members the opportunity to ensure that investments in this legislation flow to their communities.

The bill before us today has 1,473 designated projects included. Every Member who requested projects that met the committee’s criteria received projects. I believe this process has allowed us to elevate the greatest needs of communities across the country—each of whom have real infrastructure needs and are entitled to have those needs supported by this legislation.

Now, let’s get to work.