Chairman Price Statement at FY 2023 Budget Request for the Department of Transportation
Congressman David Price (D-NC), Chair of the Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks at the Subcommittee's hearing on the Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Request for the Department of Transportation:
Welcome Secretary Buttigieg to your second appearance before the THUD Subcommittee. Although we are gathering in a virtual format, I know that we’ll have a productive conversation. And welcome to members of the subcommittee. I appreciate your participation today and remind you to please mute your mics when you are not speaking and ensure your video remains on in order to be recognized!
Mr. Secretary, we have had the pleasure of working together over the last 15 months on our shared vision for transforming America’s transportation infrastructure into safer, more accessible, and equitable networks through the enactment of the monumental investments included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (or I-I-J-A) and the fiscal year 2022 Transportation and Housing appropriations bill.
I want to thank you for your leadership both publicly and behind the scenes to advance these shared goals and make historic investments in our transportation networks.
Combined, Congress enacted $143 billion in new funding for highways, bridges, airports, ports, rail, and public transit systems for fiscal year 2022. I look forward to continuing our work together to move these investments forward, and officially begin our work today on the fiscal year 2023 budget.
The budget before us includes $105 billion for the nation’s transportation systems, funding that is necessary to continue to address our distressed infrastructure – roads, bridges, airports, ports, rail, and public transit systems. The President’s request will be leveraged by the $36.8 billion provided by the IIJA in advanced appropriations to modernize and improve transportation networks across the country, increase safety, reduce harmful emissions that contribute to climate change, and address equity.
While IIJA provides greater funding opportunities for states, local governments, and transportation agencies, Congress must continue to provide robust annual federal funding to enable them to see the projects through, to address our needs systematically year after year.
Those needs have accumulated. The American Society of Civil Engineers (or ASCE) graded America’s infrastructure overall as a C- in its most recent 2021 report card, with aviation, roads, and transit scoring in the D range.
They also estimated last year that we needed to invest $2.59 trillion over 10 years just to bring our infrastructure into good condition. The IIJA will certainly propel us toward this needed transformation, but we can’t forget the importance of the President’s budget request and annual appropriations in closing the funding gaps that still remain.
The President’s budget allows for new or improved service across all modes that will emphasize safety, environmental sustainability, equitable communities and transportation options, and resiliency in the face of extreme weather conditions.
It builds on this subcommittee’s commitment to examine and address some of the disparate impacts that the federal government has contributed to through the creation of our interstate highway system under the guise of urban renewal. In fact, the President’s budget, like the IIJA, builds on the work of this subcommittee more broadly.
Mr. Diaz-Balart and I and members on both sides of the aisle have for years augmented authorized and formula amounts to support all modes of transportation, often noting immodestly that while everyone was talking infrastructure, declaring “Infrastructure Week” and the like, we were actually making the investments.
All modes have benefitted, but our focus on intercity passenger rail and transit has been especially strong. The 2023 budget request will make great strides toward reducing single occupancy vehicle trips, traffic congestion, and harmful emissions by investing $3 billion in Amtrak, another $1.3 billion in three competitive grant programs that can support passenger rail projects – including $500 million for the oversubscribed CRISI program, $2.85 billion for the Capital Investment Grants program, and $150 million for new competitive grants to improve the resilience of transit assets and help transit agencies transition their fleets to zero emission buses. These are all increases above fiscal year 2022.
The area I represent in North Carolina offers a good example of what such investments can mean nationwide. I don’t aspire to be “Mr. S-Line” — it doesn’t quite match “Amtrak Joe” — but I must say that getting the S-Line Corridor from Raleigh to Richmond developed will be an enormous step, the key step, in developing the southeast passenger rail corridor.
The states of North Carolina and Virginia, with generous help from CRISI, are well on their way to getting this done, and the resources in this budget and the IIJA will let us replicate this success in corridors ideally suited to passenger rail travel across the country.
Notably, the budget request also makes critical investments in technical assistance and capacity building in underserved communities, in part through the new Thriving Communities Initiative. This too builds on the bipartisan work that this Committee has done over several years to support communities of persistent poverty.
Overall, the 2023 budget request dedicates $26.8 billion in discretionary resources to take care of our most immediate needs, including the necessary resources to keep DOT staffed and prepared to implement and oversee these critical investments.
Mr. Diaz-Balart and I look forward to working with you, Mr. Secretary, in crafting a bipartisan bill that helps address the unmet infrastructure needs of this country.
Secretary Buttigieg, I look forward to your testimony today and to working with you to ensure DOT has the funding it needs to carry out its important mission.