By LSN Partners on February 2, 2023
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held its first hearing of the 118th Congress, where it explored the implementation and oversight of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), the state of transportation infrastructure, and ongoing supply chain challenges.
The witnesses for the hearing were:
- Mr. Chris Spear, President and Chief Executive Officer, America
- n Trucking Associations
- Mr. Ian Jefferies, President and Chief Executive Officer, Association of American Railroads
- Mr. Jeff Firth, Vice President, Hamilton Construction, on behalf of Associated General Contractors of America
- Mr. Roger Guenther, Executive Director, Port Houston
- Mr. Greg Regan, President, Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO
Committee chair Sam Graves (R-MO) began the hearing by noting Republican concerns over the $1.2 trillion IIJA. Committee Republicans specifically pointed to the climate-focused priorities of the law, such as the December 2021 Federal Highway Administration memo that encouraged states to follow a philosophy that Congress deleted from the final iteration of the bill: to focus federal funds on maintaining existing roads before expanding capacity. Graves, who voted against the IIJA, argued the language went beyond the letter of the law and ignored Congressional intent.
Graves and other Republicans on the panel also argued that the Biden administration’s implementation is contributing to U.S. supply chain issues with overly burdensome regulations and a focus on green initiatives at the expense of businesses. Republicans also urged the administration to implement the One Federal Decision process codified in the law, which requires the Transportation Department to streamline the project permitting process.
Democrats on the panel continued to praise the investments in the law, including green initiatives like expanding rail transit and EV charging infrastructure and creating jobs. They defended the Biden administration’s implementation of the law. Democrats also warned Republicans against making changes to the law, which they argued could lead to more bureaucratic red tape as agencies already have to reformulate programs or wind down programs.
Both parties agreed to address trucking and rail workforce retention, highway bottlenecks, and strengthening safety measures for transportation workers.
You can view the hearing and read the witness’ written testimony at this link.