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ICYMI: T&I Republicans Press for Their Infrastructure Priorities at Hearing with Secretary Buttigieg

Washington, D.C., March 29, 2021 | Justin Harclerode (202) 225-9446 | comments
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In Case You Missed It, Committee Republicans highlighted their priorities for a bipartisan surface transportation reauthorization during last week’s first Committee hearing with Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg.

Republicans Tell Buttigieg that Biden's Infrastructure Bill Should Focus on Roads, Rail, Ports - Not Climate or Social Justice (USA Today)
“I don’t think the bill can grow into a multi-trillion-dollar catch-all,” Missouri Rep. Sam Graves, the top Republican on the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee said Thursday.  “A transportation bill needs to be a transportation bill, not a Green New Deal.”…

“I just came back from a motorcycle ride – my first of the season – and I can reaffirm for you the obvious that our roads and bridges in this country suck.  They need a lot of work,” [Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y.] said.  “And we can't do it in a partisan manner because it's too big an issue for us.”

Buttigieg pitches ‘once in a generation’ infrastructure fix (AP)
“This needs to be about roads and bridges. ... The more massive any bill becomes, the more bipartisanship suffers.” [Rep. Sam Graves of Missouri]

Buttigieg Asks Congress for ‘Generational Investment’ in Infrastructure (New York Times)
Representative Don Young, Republican of Alaska, pressed Mr. Buttigieg on whether the Biden administration had a strategy to pay for more than a trillion dollars in spending needs.  “We do have to fund this some way,” Mr. Young said.  “Does the administration, or yourself, have an idea how to fund this program, other than borrowing?”…

Representative Scott Perry, Republican of Pennsylvania, argued that prioritizing climate change in the bill would provide China, a top manufacturing rival, with an advantage given that Beijing believes that “the West, and only the West, needs to rapidly decarbonize.”

Buttigieg: Borrowing alone can't pay for infrastructure (CQ)
Rep. Brian Babin, R-Texas, meanwhile, asked Buttigieg if he supported having electric vehicles pay a vehicle miles traveled fee in order to help pay for the Highway Trust Fund.

“I’m very open to that,” Buttigieg said.  He said he backs a user pays principle to help fund highways, though the particulars of how to implement such a system are still under consideration.

Rural-Urban Debate Highlights Partisan Split on Infrastructure (Bloomberg Government)
…Republicans in recent hearings said they want bipartisan legislation that sticks to transportation and balances rural and urban needs.

“We need to ensure equity between rural and urban areas,” Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said at a hearing Thursday….

Several Republicans criticized the latest stimulus law (Public Law 117-2), passed with only Democratic votes, saying it prioritized urban over rural areas. Many Republicans represent more rural-heavy areas of the country.

“A major concern with the reconciliation bill—besides the process itself—was how little attention rural America received,” Graves said.

More information from last week’s hearing is available here.

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