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Earl B.
Democrat OR 3

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  • Infrastructure Funding

    by Representative Earl Blumenauer

    Posted on 2015-01-07

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    BLUMENAUER. Mr. Speaker, there is always a great deal of excitement surrounding a new Congress and a new year. One area that has been very encouraging is the focus on rebuilding and renewing America. That was where we left off in the last Congress, frustrated by an inability to produce a 6-year reauthorization, largely because of an inability for Congress to address meaningfully how it would be funded. This continues a struggle of almost two decades, as we have not increased the gas tax or developed a viable, sustainable, adequate alternative.

    It is widely recognized that America is falling apart and falling behind. Our infrastructure, once the envy of the world, now has put us at a second-tier status, with America at risk of falling ever further behind.

    The deplorable state of our infrastructure is actually costing Americans far more to endure the damage to their cars and the delays to their lives through congestion than simply funding an alternative and fixing it.

    It is encouraging that the administration and people in both parties, in both Chambers, might be prepared to address the issue anew. There are some short-term stopgap solutions which would nowhere near solve the problem but nudge us in the right direction.

    In the Senate there is bipartisan interest in and openness to a comprehensive solution including the gas tax. Senators Bob Corker and his partner Chris Murphy have been champions. Senator Tom Carper continues his leadership and advocacy for the gas tax solution. Senator John Thune, a key Republican leader, has signaled his openness to the gas tax, which is the simplest, most logical, and most effective solution.

    Even the problematic proposal to use dynamic scoring to evaluate budget proposals could make a difference for the prospect of solving this huge problem for America if it would be applied in the spirit of dynamic scoring.

    The Standard & Poor's research report, ``U.S. Infrastructure Investment: A Chance to Reap More Than We Sow,'' pointed out the overwhelming economic impact in terms of jobs created, economic benefits that actually exceeded the direct amount invested, and long- term deficit reduction of $200 million for every $1.2 billion invested. This should be one of the easiest economic decisions we ever make.

    In an era of low interest rates, gasoline prices falling dramatically, when there are still hundreds of thousands of people ready to go to work at family wage jobs rebuilding this country, the economic case has never been stronger.

    By all means, let's evaluate all of the proposals. Let's expand the discussion. Let's look at the leadership of States around the country that are stepping up to do their part. State, local, and private investment all have a role to play, to be sure, but recognize that the 25 percent of infrastructure funding that comes from the Federal Government plays a critical role. Let this Congress give America a solution that is sustainable, not one that would put us back in the same fix in a year or two or even sooner.

    Let's have a revenue source that is dedicated so that we can begin on longer-term projects that demand multimodal, multistate, multiyear solutions and that is large enough to give us a long overdue 6-year comprehensive reauthorization. Stable, dedicated, big enough to do the job--this is a test that the new Congress and administration should meet to revitalize our economy and rebuild and renew this great country.

    At a time of dramatically falling oil and gas prices, when the public is suffering from Congress dithering on our transportation and other infrastructure needs, there will never be a better time to heed the advice of President Ronald Reagan 33 years ago in his Thanksgiving Day radio address to the country to raise the gas tax and put Americans to work fixing the problem that has only gotten worse. It was good advice then. It is good advice today.


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