Chairman Price Statement at the Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Request for the Department of Transportation Hearing

2021-04-15 14:13

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 2022 Budget Request for the Department of Transportation: 

Welcome Secretary Buttigieg to your first appearance before the THUD Subcommittee. Although we are gathering in a virtual format, I know that we’ll have a productive conversation.  As a reminder to all the members, 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 speaking since your confirmation about our shared vision for moving America’s transportation infrastructure forward in an energetic and equitable way, and I look forward to continuing our dialogue today as we officially begin our work on the fiscal year 2022 budget.

We have a lot to cover today between the American Jobs Plan and the release of the FY22 budget blueprint.

President Biden’s American Jobs Plan would expand opportunity through investments in broadband, affordable housing, school construction, clean energy, childcare, and of course transportation.

The plan includes $621 billion for the nation’s transportation systems, funding that is urgently needed to address our crumbling and aging infrastructure – roads, bridges, airports, seaports, rail, and public transit systems – and to make them more resilient.  The proposal will modernize and improve our nation’s transportation networks, increase safety, and reduce harmful emissions that contribute to climate change.

There’s no question our country requires a massive investment to repair structurally deficient bridges, restore transit systems to a state of good repair, improve our ports, and build new airport runways, not only to safely connect people to work and school, but to attract job-creating industries that help us build a strong economy and remain competitive globally.

The American Society of Civil Engineers (or ASCE) grades America’s infrastructure overall as a C-, with aviation, roads, and transit continue scoring in the D range.

Not grades our parents would have let us bring home without serious consequences!

ASCE also estimates that we need to invest $2.59 trillion over 10 years just to bring our infrastructure into good condition.  The American Jobs Plan combined with the President’s budget request would move us toward that necessary investment.

We must also make forward-looking investments in new service across all modes—expanding intercity passenger rail, transit service, and airport capacity, while also increasing options for cyclists and pedestrians—with a renewed focus on safety, environmental sustainability, and resiliency in the face of a changing climate.

Equally important is the Administration’s commitment to equity. A few weeks ago, this Subcommittee held a hearing on creating more equitable communities through transportation and housing.

We explored some of the disparate impacts that the Federal government has made, for example, by running interstate highways through historically black neighborhoods under the guise of urban renewal.  Hopefully, we now recognize an obligation to avoid such impacts and to right the wrongs of the past.

I am pleased that both the American Jobs Plan and the FY22 budget request target investments to communities of color, rural communities, and Native Americans, and aim to increase transportation options for underserved communities.

And after four years of denial by the prior Administration, it is refreshing to once again see a focus on our future with efforts to mitigate climate change and its effects and to put America on a path toward environmental sustainability. This includes hastening our transition to electric vehicles, buses, and trains, building or rebuilding infrastructure so as to reduce and withstand the impacts of climate change, and protecting and restoring our natural infrastructure.

The same is true in the area of safety, with robust investments to improve road safety for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians; to further progress on rail safety; and to ensure the safety of aircraft and our airways.

The 2022 budget request will make strides toward reducing single occupancy vehicle trips, traffic congestion, and harmful emissions by investing $2.7 billion in Amtrak, another $625 million in a new passenger rail grant program, $2.5 billion for the Capital Investment Grants program, and $250 million for new low or no emission buses.  These are all increases above fiscal year 2021.

And it makes critical investments in technical assistance and capacity building in underserved communities through the new Thriving Communities Initiative, building on the bipartisan work that this Committee has done over the past two years to support communities of persistent poverty.

Overall, the budget request dedicates $25.6 billion in discretionary resources to take care of our most immediate needs.

We look forward to working with you, Mr. Secretary, as Congress now turns to drafting legislative and appropriations language to make the American Jobs Plan and the fiscal year 2022 THUD bill a reality.

We are happy to see our Subcommittee’s work reflected in much of what you are proposing. Over the last four years, Mr. Diaz-Balart and I have occasionally been known to observe that while others talked a good game on infrastructure, we actually did something about funding it.

In fact, we invested nearly $19 billion above authorized levels across all modes, a significant down payment, and I hope a precursor of both what we must now do and the cooperative way in which we must do it.

We’re particularly encouraged by the ways the Administration has picked up on our initiatives—from getting serious about passenger rail, to supporting transformative programs like BUILD (now to be called RAISE), and to addressing resiliency and equity in all that we do.

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.

117th Congress