Opening a Select Revenue Measures subcommittee hearing on “The Economic Impact of Federal Infrastructure Investment,” top subcommittee Republican Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) expressed disappointment with Democrats’ continued emphasis of partisanship over real infrastructure spending:
“Americans need real infrastructure investment, not trillions of dollars in more reckless spending.
“Just two weeks ago, a bridge collapsed in Pittsburgh not far from my district sending several people to the hospital. Five cars and a Port Authority bus were on the bridge at the time. This is the kind of real infrastructure investment we need.
“Too often what Democrats offer as ‘infrastructure’ is just a redistribution of taxpayer money for various social or climate priorities instead of on highways, roads, rivers and bridges, and runways.”
The full remarks appear below. To watch them, click here.
Thank you, Chairman Thompson. And thank you to all of our witnesses for joining us here today.
The topic of this hearing is “The Economic Impact of Federal Infrastructure Investment.”
With a jobless recovery and inflation fueled by inefficient spending, most families do not feel like things are getting better.
Housing is getting more expensive, groceries are getting more expensive, transportation is getting more expensive, and gasoline is getting more expensive.
It was 5 degrees in Butler, Pennsylvania, this morning when I got up. A lot of people who live in the district that I represent, they heat their home with propane, and that is up 52 percent.
Americans need real infrastructure investment, not trillions of dollars in more reckless spending.
Just two weeks ago, a bridge collapsed in Pittsburgh not far from my district sending several people to the hospital. Five cars and a Port Authority bus were on the bridge at the time. This is the kind of real infrastructure investment we need.
Too often what Democrats offer as “infrastructure” is just a redistribution of taxpayer money for various social or climate priorities instead of on highways, roads, rivers and bridges, and runways.
This approach ignores glaring short-term needs and fails to address the long-term investments that will increase our economic prosperity.
The Biden Administration’s command-and-control approach only makes matters worse:
For instance, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) has commented that the Administration’s “Fix it First” policy prevents states from using federal highway dollars to improve local infrastructure in the way that works best for each unique scenario.
AASHTO is not considered a conservative group or a pro-business group. It is a bipartisan group of transportation officials closest to the local action; that is, they are closest to the people. The very people we all represent.
And this is not what the people were told was happening when the infrastructure legislation was being debated.
White House folks are trying to re-write once again what the people wanted, which is more money for more roads and bridges, not more EV subsidies and charging stations.
I told my liberal friends if you want to reduce highways and build more bike lanes, then do it. But, in my cities and towns, our local elected officials should decide if they simply want more roads and bridges that don’t collapse during rush hour.
Project proposals are often sent to the bottom of the pile if they “add new general purpose travel lanes serving single occupancy vehicles.” And any project requiring a new right-of-way is ineligible for fast-tracked National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review.
The Administration wants special-interest climate restrictions attached to infrastructure spending, which will limit the effectiveness and timeliness of investments. The result will be aggravated congestion, avoidable CO2 emissions, bottlenecked supply chains, and disappointed American drivers once again stuck in traffic.
We’ll hear from Mr. McClymonds that the trucking industry’s top priority for infrastructure spending—safe and accessible parking for trucks—was left out of last year’s big “infrastructure” bill.
It seems that whatever the intended goal, Democrats make sure that taxpayer dollars are spent as inefficiently as possible. They spend $1.2 trillion of taxpayer dollars to get $120 billion in hard infrastructure investment.
Since I spent my life in automobile industry, I can tell you I don’t think a 10 percent return on investment is worthy of a pat on the back.
Republicans and Democrats have a shared interest in making real infrastructure investments to help American families, small businesses, and communities.
Our Republican colleagues worked hard on such a bill in the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee. Their approach would cut red tape and ensure that any taxpayer dollars spent on infrastructure will go toward things Americans care about—like roads and bridges—and not bureaucratic waste or pork projects.
Unfortunately, Democrats’ wasteful spending had real economic consequences. The failed policies of the past year have led to the highest levels of inflation in 40 years, with no end in sight. According to Moody’s, American families are paying at least $250 more every month just to keep up with higher prices.
The burden of inflation falls disproportionately on low-to-moderate income households. It is the most regressive tax.
Of course, Democrats’ counterintuitive response to this crisis is to call for even more government spending, as well as higher taxes on Main Street, crushing mandates, and more bureaucratic control.
American families cannot afford any more of these failed policies.
I hope our colleagues will take this opportunity to abandon wasteful spending plans, set aside tax hikes, and work across the aisle to help American families and small businesses that have been struggling throughout the pandemic.
We can and should use the trillions of dollars already spent in a more efficient manner, without further harming Americans with higher prices and lower net take-home pay.
Thank you and I yield back.