Chairman Thompson Opening Statement at Select Revenue Measures Subcommittee Hearing on Examining the Economic Impact of Federal Infrastructure Investment
One of the reasons I am proud to serve on this Subcommittee is our ability to tackle issues that truly affect all Americans and their day-to-day lives.
Infrastructure investment, our topic at hand, is one of those issues.
All joking about a perpetual “infrastructure week” aside, the state of our infrastructure has a constant and direct impact on the safety and wellbeing of American citizens.
Congress finally took action to strengthen this vital part of our society when we passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
And despite the largely partisan vote in the House—215 Democrats voted for the legislation, while only 13 Republicans supported it—I believe that the value of infrastructure improvements is evident to every Member’s constituents.
First, it’s clear that infrastructure investments will make our nation stronger and our communities safer.
In my home state of California, there are over 1,500 bridges and over 14,000 miles of highway in poor condition. Over the past decade, commute times have increased by 14.6 percent, and on average, each California driver pays $799 per year in costs due to driving on roads in need of repair.
The picture looks even worse for Californians who take public transportation—they face an extra 66 percent of commuting time, and an estimated 16 percent of our state’s public transit vehicles are past their useful lives.
These issues are by no means unique to California—they are pervasive across all of our districts.
Fortunately, thanks to this Congress’s attention to infrastructure investment, we are poised to make major improvements. For example, under the new law, California expects to receive at least $23.5 billion for highway programs and $4.2 billion for bridge replacements and repairs for the next five years.
This infrastructure investment will create more opportunities for our constituents, in part because Congress recognized that infrastructure consists of more than just roads and bridges.
Opportunity can travel via our federal highway system, but also on our information superhighway.
Broadband internet is necessary for Americans to do their jobs, to participate equally in school learning or the health care system, and to stay connected. Broadband access is one of the major topics of conversation in my town halls—it is simply an indispensable part of the way our families, workers, businesses, and local governments now engage with the world.
Again, thanks to this Congress’s efforts, our states will receive billions of dollars for broadband infrastructure and expanded coverage.
These resources must also be as inclusive as possible. The infrastructure law creates an Affordability Connectivity Benefit, which will help low-income families afford internet access—a benefit that will reach about 27 percent of Californians who could otherwise miss out on the opportunities broadband coverage provides.
Third, the value of our infrastructure investments is also grounded in economic opportunity. Analyses of the new law consistently indicate that these investments will create hundreds of thousands of middle-class jobs and training opportunities. This is an investment in economic growth and financial security that American households need to recover fully from the pandemic crisis.
The infrastructure law’s investments also significantly address the grave climate and disaster resiliency challenges we face.
I believe that this Congress needs to do as much as possible to support the green energy economy and to protect our constituents from the effects of climate change.
The infrastructure law takes a historic step by focusing resources on electric vehicle infrastructure and on climate resiliency. It invests $7.5 billion to build out the first-ever national network of EV chargers in the United States, including at least $384 million in California.
It also provides funding to improve protection against natural disasters and to invest in weatherization that will reduce energy costs for families.
As this Subcommittee knows, I care deeply about wildfire mitigation and disaster relief. I’ve seen first hand the toll that natural disasters can take on the mental, physical, and economic well-being of my district’s residents. The infrastructure law’s focus on resiliency funding—including $84 million to protect Californians against wildfires—represents a much-needed and long overdue investment in our constituents and their futures.
As implementation of the new law moves forward, I believe it is extremely important for this Subcommittee’s Members to examine the impacts of these investments on our districts.
That’s why I’ve brought together our panel of witnesses today to share their expertise.
While Democrats largely carried the vote to pass the infrastructure package in the House, the legislation’s goals enjoy strong bipartisan support across the country.
I very much look forward to discussing with our witnesses just how those goals are becoming a reality.
And now, I’d like to welcome to the Subcommittee, as Ranking Member, my colleague, Mr. Kelly. l recognize Ranking Member Kelly for the purposes of an opening statement.