Neal Opening Statement at Hearing on Our Nation’s Crumbling Infrastructure and the Need for Immediate Action
Mar 6, 2019
(As prepared for delivery)
Good morning, and welcome to our witnesses and audience members. Thank you everyone for being here today.
Today we will hear testimony from some of the nation’s leading members of the labor and business communities, as well as from experts on the systems that connect our communities and fuel our economy. They will highlight the urgency with which we must address our nation’s infrastructure crisis.
Our infrastructure system used to be the envy of the world. Now, due to decades of underfunding and neglect, it’s falling apart, and we’re falling behind our global competitors. The deficiencies of our roads, bridges, transit, water systems, and electrical grids are well-documented and widely known. This is a problematic reality for every single state and congressional district in the nation.
In fact, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave our country’s infrastructure system a grade of D+. The ASCE also estimates that it would take 2 trillion dollars of investment over ten years just to bring our grade up to a B. We face the largest infrastructure funding gap in the world.
America shouldn’t settle for anything less than world-class infrastructure. We need land, air, and water transport systems that move people and goods from point A to point B efficiently and at reasonable cost. We need systems that deliver reliable, sustainable, low-cost power. And we need water systems that protect the public health.
As we neglect to make basic repairs to our nation’s infrastructure, other countries are charging ahead and modernizing theirs.
For example, China boasts more than 15,000 miles of high-speed rail lines with top speeds over 155 mph. Meanwhile, the fastest train in the United States has an average speed of 82 mph. We are both figuratively – and literally – failing to keep pace with our global competitors.
Everyone wins when we make meaningful, sustained investments in our nation’s infrastructure. Infrastructure development creates thousands of good paying jobs for hard-working Americans. From civil engineers and hydrologists, to truck drivers and rail car repairers, infrastructure investment offers workers with a range of skills and education levels the opportunity to earn competitive wages.
Infrastructure investment is also a win for American business. Our transport systems are the backbone of our economy. When we invest in infrastructure, it results in a significant economic multiplier – with each dollar spent, our nation becomes more competitive and prosperous.
What is good for the nation as a whole is good for our local communities. We must continue to re-invest and revitalize our urban neighborhoods and rural communities through successful programs like the Low Income Housing Tax Credit and the New Markets Tax Credit. I have been a longtime supporter of both of these programs because they have a real, positive impact on our communities.
The President campaigned on a massive infrastructure package, and he mentioned it again in this year’s State of the Union address. I’ve spoken with Secretary Mnuchin and Secretary Chao, and both have assured me that we have willing partners in the Administration. So I think we have a real opportunity to work together and do something big here.
And with that I will recognize the Ranking Member, Mr. Brady for an opening statement.