Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL), Republican Leader of the Subcommittee on Trade for the House Committee on Ways and Means, kicked off Thursday’s hearing on Advancing U.S. Economic Competitiveness, Equity, and Sustainability Through Infrastructure Investments by making several major points:
- There is bipartisan agreement on the need for strong and effective infrastructure to maintain our competitive edge on the global stage and to create jobs.
- Infrastructure is just one aspect of our competitiveness. Republicans support pro-growth trade, tax, and regulatory policies that make us more competitive and create jobs.
- I am concerned about the Administration’s moratorium on trade negotiations. Trade agreements grow our economy and make us more competitive, supporting American workers.
- I’m very opposed to the tax hikes that the Biden Administration has proposed. Higher taxes will make the U.S. less competitive and hamper our economic recovery, sending jobs overseas and lowering wages.
The following are his remarks as prepared.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this important hearing on advancing U.S. economic competitiveness, equity, and sustainability through infrastructure investments. Our Trade Subcommittee hearing on infrastructure in the last Congress clearly showed that there is bipartisan agreement on the need for strong and effective infrastructure to maintain our competitive edge on the global stage and to create jobs. I hope we can work together, on a bipartisan basis, to find practical solutions, particularly infrastructure that supports our trade competitiveness. And thank you to the witnesses here today for taking the time to testify and share your views.
It is always a pleasure to have a witness testifying from my home state of Florida—Mr. Anderson, it is great to have you before the Subcommittee. I look forward to hearing your testimony and continuing our collaborative work to strengthen our local economy, especially as Florida helps lead the U.S. economic recovery from the effects of the pandemic.
Trade is such a positive and dynamic force for the people of Florida. Our port infrastructure investments have paid off considerably, making Florida the gateway to the Caribbean and Latin America. We’ve seen significant growth in exports from Florida in recent years, reaching as high as $56 billion in 2019. Florida’s fifteen seaports fuel our state’s economy—Port Tampa Bay alone moves over 37 million cargo tons a year and supports over 85 thousand good-paying jobs, many of which are in my district.
This success story demonstrates that smart and effective investments in our infrastructure benefit workers and our economic competitiveness. However, infrastructure is just one aspect of our competitiveness—we must also prioritize growth and a strong economy. And Republicans support pro-growth trade, tax, and regulatory policies that make us more competitive and create jobs.
That is why I am concerned about the Administration’s moratorium on trade negotiations. Trade agreements, like USMCA, grow our economy and make us more competitive, supporting American workers with good jobs and high standards. While I can understand the desire of any new administration to conduct its own analysis before negotiating new agreements, time is of the essence. Without an aggressive trade negotiating agenda, America will lose influence abroad and jobs here at home. Countries that don’t share our values, like China, will step in to fill that void. There is no question that even our friendly competitors and trading partners will continue to negotiate new agreements all around the world, leaving us behind. I hope that the Administration will reverse course and promptly consult with our Committee about its plan to reengage with the UK, Kenya, Japan, and the EU.
We must also keep in mind that infrastructure projects in the U.S. are among the most expensive in the world due to substantial regulatory burdens. Some important Republican priorities in this area include streamlining how we build and maintain our infrastructure and maximizing public-private partnerships to make infrastructure spending more cost-effective. This will allow us to leverage infrastructure spending as effectively as possible, allowing for more growth, competitiveness, and jobs.
I’m also very opposed to the tax hikes that the Biden Administration has proposed. Higher taxes will make the U.S. less competitive and hamper our economic recovery, sending jobs overseas and lowering wages. Higher taxes will cost jobs. The simple fact is that tax hikes are NOT a pro-worker policy.
Let’s come together in a bipartisan way to find cost-effective and efficient solutions to our infrastructure challenges. If we do this right, we can make America hum by facilitating growth and jobs to benefit American workers and families.
Thank you again, Mr. Chairman, for calling this hearing, and thank you to the witnesses for taking the time to be here before us today—I look forward to hearing your testimony.