Articulating the federal role of transportation was the key theme in today’s inaugural House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing for the 113th Congress. Chairman Shuster set the tone by referencing the Constitution’s Commerce Clause and the settling of an early navigation dispute between Maryland and Virginia. Manufacturers in America have benefited greatly from the nation’s long-standing commitment to infrastructure and need seamless connectivity to survive in today’s competitive climate.
The two-year MAP-21 expires in September 2014 and the Chairman is beginning the reauthorization effort now. While issues like the overdue Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA) and passenger rail reauthorization are top on the agenda this year, getting back to a well-funded, long-term surface transportation authorization is a goal manufacturers are fully behind.
Improving our nation’s aging infrastructure is part of the NAM’s Growth Agenda. We must invest and modernize our roads in order to compete and make the United States the best place in the world to manufacture.
Today’s witness former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell said it best today, “We can’t be an exceptional country without a world-class infrastructure.”
The President reintroduced some ideas last night on infrastructure. We look forward to working with the Administration to advance rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure and dealing with the most pressing challenges facing the transportation network. This will best be achieved by passing a well-funded, multi-year authorization immediately following the expiration of MAP-21 in 2014.
We agree that improving infrastructure helps manufacturers compete and succeed in their businesses. Certainly the private sector can play an important role to help leverage federal investments and resources. Chairman Shuster and the Transportation Committee can exceed those expectations laid out in the State of the Union if they are focused on growing the nation’s economy.
Also of note at today’s hearing was the support for the Keystone XL pipeline by all three witnesses including former Pennsylvania Gov. Rendell, Laborers’ International Union of North America General President Terry O’Sullivan and President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber Tom Donohue.
Robyn Boerstling is director of transportation infrastructure policy, National Association of Manufacturers.