Blumenauer Statement at Ways and Means Hearing on Long-Term Funding of Highway Trust Fund

June 17, 2015
Press Release

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Washington, DC – Representative Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) delivered the following remarks during today’s House Ways and Means Committee hearing on long-term financing of the Highway Trust Fund.

“This is potentially a very significant moment for the Ways & Means Committee and the American public. It is no secret that America is falling apart while we’re falling behind. Some of us remember when America had the finest infrastructure in the world.

“That is no longer even remotely the case. America’s infrastructure, by any objective of international measure, has dropped precipitously. We have massive unmet needs, and we are poised to fall further.

“It is not the fault of state and local governments and American business, which have begun doing their part. Nineteen states since 2012, six very red Republican states this year, and the private sector are investing billions in their own infrastructure.

“The federal government since President Eisenhower has long played a critical role. Indeed, since Benjamin Franklin’s postal roads referenced in the Constitution and Abraham Lincoln’s transcontinental railroad, large, multi-state, multi-year, complex projects have relied on the federal government to invest.

“We’re not keeping up our end of the bargain for the 50 percent of capital spending on big projects that comes from the federal government. We haven’t made any meaningful adjustment since 1993 to the gas tax, relying on short-term fixes, gimmicks – and no matter how you slice it, adding to the deficit.

“It doesn’t have to be this way. It has been studied extensively, including multiple presidential commissions. We have a unique alignment between business, labor, local government, professions, small business, truckers, AAA, bicyclists and transit. This is a coalition that’s broader and stronger at the local, state and federal level than any other issue.

“I would ask Mr. Graves, if the Committee were to spend a week focused on topline infrastructure, inviting you and your colleagues, leaders in business and labor to come together to testify, to evaluate alternatives, and to work together with the Committee for something that would meet the needs: What would be the response from the army of people who build, maintain, and use our surface transportation?”

Ahead of the hearing, Representative Blumenauer held a press conference with transportation stakeholders who build, maintain and use the U.S. transportation system to highlight the hearing and the importance of finding a sustainable, dedicated, long-term solution to pay for our nation’s infrastructure. Representative Blumenauer was joined by representatives from Associated General Contractors, American Public Transportation Association, American Road & Transportation Builders Association, American Society of Civil Engineers, Transportation for America, and American Trucking Associations.

Representative Blumenauer, a longtime champion in Congress for transportation funding, this year introducedH.R. 680, the Update, Promote, and Develop America’s Transportation Essentials (UPDATE) Act, which would phase in a 15 cent per gallon tax increase over three years on gasoline and diesel to provide $210 billion in the next decade. Additionally, in an effort to work towards replacing the gas tax entirely, Representative Blumenauer has also introduced H.R. 679, the Road Usage Charge Pilot Program Act, to establish a road usage charge pilot program to study mileage-based fee systems.