March 28, 2023

Ranking Members Larsen, Norton Statements from Hearing on Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Implementation

Washington, D.C. — The following are opening remarks, as prepared for delivery, from Ranking Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Rick Larsen (D-WA) and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) during today’s hearing titled, “Reviewing the Implementation of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.” Video of Larsen and Norton’s opening statements are here and hereMore information on the hearing can be found here.Ranking Member Larsen: Thank you, Chair Crawford and Ranking Member Norton, for holding this hearing.  Today’s hearing is a welcome opportunity to highlight how federal dollars are benefiting communities—spurring transportation and infrastructure projects in every single Congressional District that are creating jobs and driving economic growth.  You cannot have a big-league economy with little league infrastructure.  Last Congress, this Committee answered the call of states, local and Tribal governments, industry, and stakeholders—several of whom are on our panel today—that an aging, congested and overburdened transportation network was badly in need of an overhaul.  Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), communities across the country are building better roads, bridges, transit stations, freight facilities, truck parking, bike lanes and sidewalks.  The benefits of the BIL are already underway, we are seeing early results and there is more to come. Transportation means jobs—good, family-wage jobs that cannot be outsourced.  These are private sector construction and engineering jobs on projects scoped and selected by state and local governments with required local public input.   Thanks to the BIL, we updated decades-old federal transportation policies to reflect economic, societal and workforce needs.  And thanks to the BIL, communities are building a cleaner, greener, safer and more accessible transportation network.  Congress didn’t make this up—we followed the lead of states, cities, counties and Tribes across the country who have been hard at work to modernize and transform the way people and goods move.  Now, this Committee’s job is to oversee implementation of the $660 billion under U.S. Department of Transportation.  This dollar amount, and the number of competitive grant opportunities, is significantly larger than previous transportation bills administered by DOT.  It represents the largest increase in federal highway investment since the late 1950s.  The pace at which these dollars are reaching communities is impressive: A total of $200 billion has been made available from all the initiatives funded in the BIL, and DOT has issued the lion’s share.  DOT has already made available nearly $125 billion in formula funds for highways and bridges.  To date, more than 3,700 bridge projects have launched.   States supported 36,400 new projects with federal highway formula funding through January 2023, according to analysis by ARTBA (American Road & Transportation Builders Association), one of our witnesses today. There is at least one new project underway in every Congressional district in the country.   

ARTBA provided a summary to every member of the Subcommittee on what is happening in their district. I encourage my colleagues to review that information.

 Thanks to the BIL, in my district, WSDOT is investing nearly $12 million in federal-aid highway funds to rehabilitate the SR 529 Snohomish River Bridge in Everett.  Thanks to the BIL, USDOT has awarded $25 million RAISE grants to Whatcom County to replace the 60-year-old Lummi Island Ferry, and to the City of Lynnwood to construct a new six-lane, multimodal bridge over Interstate 5, which will reduce congestion and build a more accessible transportation system for all.   The BIL has also invested in more than 3,000 workforce projects across the country to train workers for in-demand jobs in manufacturing, semiconductors and more. There’s more to come, the BIL will boost the U.S. economy, increase our domestic manufacturing base and make our supply chains more resilient.  We still have work to do. I will continue to maintain regular communication with the administration, and I will continue to work with Chair Graves and all of you on robust and fair oversight of their implementation efforts. It is critical that we get implementation of the BIL right. A successful rollout of BIL funding will truly demonstrate the value of infrastructure investment, and make it easier for Congress to make these investments routine.  BIL is not a “set-it-and-forget-it” law. We now need the follow through—by Congress, state DOTs, USDOT, cities, counties, transit agencies, tribes and private industry working together—to deliver projects so communities get the maximum bang for their buck. Without the investments made by BIL, the economy would be in far worse shape today.  To the critics who want to brush off the benefits of the BIL, I point you to Ms. Hammond’s testimony today.   As ARTBA’s testimony correctly notes, even with inflation taken into account, there has been market growth over the last year in the construction sector; whereas without the BIL, we would likely be seeing market contraction.  Congress did its job to give the transportation construction sector the long-term resources it needed to get the economy back on track. Thanks to the BIL, the economy is on the move.  That’s why you’ll see a clear focus among Committee Democrats to highlight the benefits of the BIL.  I look forward to working with all of you to ensure the BIL is fully funded and implemented efficiently, effectively and according to Congressional intent.  Thank you to each of our witnesses for joining us today. I look forward to your testimony.  Ranking Member Norton: I’d like to thank Subcommittee Chair Rick Crawford for holding this hearing on the implementation of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act was one of the most important bills enacted last Congress. Within our subcommittee’s jurisdiction, it provided:  

  • $365 billion for highways;
  • $108 billion for transit;
  • $43 billion for multi-modal grants; and
  • $13 billion for highway and motor carrier safety.

 The work of the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit helped set the bar high. Many of the funding levels in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act are similar to what we proposed in the INVEST Act. And those Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act dollars are already being put to work. In my district, the Biden-Harris Administration has announced the award of nearly $10 million for the District of Columbia Department of Transportation to buy zero-emission buses for the DC Circulator fleet. The D.C. Department of Transportation has also committed $15 million of federal-aid highway funds to expand the Metropolitan Branch Trail, and another $18.7 million to preserve and repair the city’s tunnels.  That data is courtesy of the Highway Dashboard created by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, and I look forward to hearing testimony from their witness today, Paula Hammond. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act isn’t a D.C.-specific success story—as the Highway Dashboard shows, projects are on the ground all across the country.  The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will benefit communities large and small, urban and rural. It will support private sector businesses, like the ones many of our witnesses today represent, and public sector transportation departments and transit agencies. It makes meaningful investments in our workers, creating new allowances for states to invest in apprenticeships, on-the-job training, and partnerships with community colleges and vocational schools.  The law also requires 5% of all zero-emission bus grants to be put toward training our workers to operate and maintain the transit fleets of the future. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act also includes a new focus on supporting disadvantaged communities, and using transportation infrastructure to renew our neighborhoods, rather than tear them apart. The law can help us start addressing some of our greatest challenges—the threat of climate change, the need to strengthen our economy and supply chains, and the responsibility we have to build a transportation system that works for all. I know many members on the other side of the aisle did not support the bill—but as we will hear today, the benefits of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act are going to all communities, no matter their political leanings. I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today and working together to oversee this important law. Thank you.