January 25, 2012

Rahall: Let’s Put Americans Back to Work Rebuilding America

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative Nick J. Rahall (D-WV), top Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, today released the following statement on President Obama’s State of the Union Address:

“I am pleased that the State of the Union address highlighted the need to create good jobs here in America.  We have a real opportunity – and responsibility – to create those jobs now by making adequate investments in our Nation’s crumbling surface transportation infrastructure.

“The Republicans will soon unveil a multi-year surface transportation bill to fund critical transportation programs that are the bedrock of our long-term economic competitiveness.  As Congress struggles to address our growing infrastructure needs with dwindling Federal dollars, Democrats and Republicans must work together to ensure that every dollar spent goes toward creating American jobs.  We cannot afford to outsource construction jobs to China that can and should be filled by American workers. 

“America used to lead the pack when it comes to manufacturing and innovation, but now we are packing up entire industries and sending them overseas to our foreign competitors.  We are no longer buying just cheap trinkets from China.  We are now literally buying bridges and major transportation infrastructure.  Loopholes in ‘Buy America’ regulations are being manipulated as much as the Chinese manipulate their own currency.

“We have the capabilities, the capacity, and the construction workers ready to get the job done here at home.  Americans – who are badly in need of jobs – should rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure.  Instead, our roads and bridges are being stamped ‘Made in China’ while being paid for by American taxpayers.

“Democrats and Republicans have historically stood side by side when it comes to funding for transportation because these investments create jobs.  But these jobs must be in Beckley not Beijing, St. Louis not Shanghai.  When we make it in America, more middle-class Americans can make it in America.

“We must also be honest about how we plan to fund a surface transportation bill so our children and grandchildren are not saddled with our debt.  Democrats and Republicans must come together to identify real, sustainable revenues needed to address our long-term surface transportation infrastructure investment needs. New energy exploration will not magically create the money needed to fix our crumbling roads, bridges, and transit systems.  Independent experts agree that we cannot simply drill our way out of this problem because it will generate nowhere near the amount of revenue needed in the near-term.”

Ranking Member Rahall has been a Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for 35 years – his entire tenure in Congress.  The Committee has broad jurisdiction over the Nation’s highways, railways, airports, seaports, bus lines, and pipelines, as well as the Economic Development Administration, Appalachian Regional Commission, Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and other crucial economic development programs.

Rahall is the sponsor of the “Invest in American Jobs Act of 2011” (H.R. 3533), which would create American jobs by strengthening Buy America requirements for investments in transportation and infrastructure by requiring that all of the steel, iron, and manufactured goods used to construct these projects, which are financed by U.S. taxpayers, are produced in the United States.

Rahall is also the sponsor of the “Mobilizing Opportunities for Veterans Employment Act of 2011” (H.R. 3473 – the “MOVE Act”), which would combat ongoing high unemployment among American veterans by providing veterans the opportunity to continue to serve our Nation by rebuilding our deficient transportation infrastructure.  Last year, the Federal Government invested nearly $52 billion in our Nation’s highways, bridges, and public transportation systems.  The MOVE Act would ensure that veterans receive an opportunity to work on these vital construction projects.