The top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee Kevin Brady (R-TX) delivered the following opening statement at a Full Committee Hearing on Our Nation’s Crumbling Infrastructure And The Need For Immediate Action.
Before the start of today’s hearing, Rep. Brady sent a letter to Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA). CLICK HERE to read the letter in its entirety
CLICK HERE to watch the hearing.
Remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Thank you, Chairman, for convening this hearing today.
“While too much time in Congress is being wasted in a rush to impeachment by the new House majority, there is more urgent work to be done on behalf of the American people: acting to address our nation’s infrastructure.
“This is crucial for my state of Texas, where we are experiencing strong economic growth, nearly half-a-million new residents a year moving in, and increased cargo from our growing trade relationship with Mexico and other trading partners around the globe.
“It’s also crucial for America which – thanks to our new, modern tax code – is enjoying economic growth today nearly 50% higher than projected two years ago, record low unemployment, and the highest paycheck growth in more than a decade – especially for low and moderate income workers, and more job openings than unemployed.
“U.S. manufacturing is back: experiencing its best year in decades. And all this growth translates into a greater need for more roads, modern ports, expanded rail and waterways, more pipelines to carry affordable energy to communities, the latest telecommunications infrastructure into every rural community, and smart technology to increase capacity and lower congestion.
“Stronger growth through better infrastructure is a priority that President Trump and lawmakers on both side of the aisle share.
“We are eager to work together with Democrats on this Committee to send meaningful legislation to the President’s desk this year.
“As we begin this work, we should also recognize the challenges.
“Among them the fact that our highway infrastructure program is too often a leaky bucket, with nearly 20% of funding diverted to non-highway uses.
“All while vital projects are often delayed for years by mind-numbing state, local, and federal red tape that drives up cost and increases congestion.
“It’s important that as we explore ways to find revenue to fill the infrastructure bucket we take concrete steps together to fill these leaks so more money goes directly to the projects our communities and states desperately need.
“That means doing more to cut bureaucratic red tape and permitting delays while removing unnecessary, costly regulations at all levels of government and across agencies.
“We are ready to sit down and roll up our sleeves to find common ground on re-thinking the process and responsibly accelerating infrastructure projects.
“That includes encouraging the use of technology and innovative solutions.
“We cannot overlook the role of the private sector in a 21st-century infrastructure system.
“As we have seen in every industry – from technology to health care – the ingenuity and imagination of the private sector will always lead to better, more affordable, and more reliable products.
“I’m also convinced that we can redesign our infrastructure system to attract far more private capital to help us address our infrastructure needs – to augment, not to replace.
“For a nation that prizes free enterprise, we fall woefully behind other nations in attracting non-government investment for our growing infrastructure demands.
“I must caution that it would be a mistake to fund infrastructure by raising taxes on local businesses and corporations, making them uncompetitive in the global market.
“Any effort to slow down wage growth for workers and take our economy backwards by putting local companies at a disadvantage in this global economy doesn’t make economic sense and will be opposed.
“And as we promote and seek the advances of new technologies and innovations, we must not simply throw money from D.C.’s coffers and pray that it sticks somewhere.
“This year we note the 10th anniversary of the 2009 stimulus bill, which all acknowledge failed to modernize America’s infrastructure. Whether a supporter or a strong critic, let’s learn from its lessons by ensuring we do not waste taxpayer dollars by rushing into projects without sufficient consideration of their efficiency and value.
“In closing, improving our nation’s infrastructure is a priority we all share.
“I am optimistic that we can reach a bipartisan consensus on how best to accomplish this. I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today their ideas as well.
“Thank you, Chairman Neal.”