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A service for political professionals · Thursday, May 23, 2019 · 486,041,419 Articles · 3+ Million Readers

Hoyer Remarks at 7th Annual Infrastructure Week National Kickoff Event

WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) delivered remarks at the 7th Annual Infrastructure Week National Kickoff Event this afternoon. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

“I’m honored to be here today as your keynote speaker. I want to begin by thanking you for your efforts to keep the issue of infrastructure investment at the forefront of our national dialogue about the economy and how to create opportunities for our people.

“Throughout 2017 and 2018, I traveled around the country on a listening tour to hear from business leaders, workers, innovators, educators, and elected officials from cities and counties. I visited historic manufacturing cities in transition, like Peoria and Pittsburgh, as well as emerging centers of innovation, such as Kansas City and Las Vegas. 

“One of the most eye-opening stops on my listening tour was Indianapolis. There, I spoke with the city’s Director of Public Works, Dan Parker. Dan told me that the city of Indianapolis had more than $200 million a year in costs just to maintain its current infrastructure networks. However, the city was in need of more than $2.5 billion worth of infrastructure expansion in order to meet its projected growth. That’s just one city. Dan is one of hundreds of city officials across the country kept up at night worrying about how city budgets are going to keep up with infrastructure maintenance and demand for growth.

"The American Society of Civil Engineers rated America’s infrastructure at a ‘D-plus.’ That’s for America. That shining city upon a hill of which we are all so proud. A ‘D-plus!' In their estimation, it will take $4.5 trillion in investment to repair and upgrade existing infrastructure and build new infrastructure to grow for the twenty-first century. That last point is critical, if we are to be competitive in this century in an increasingly competitive global economy.

“There is broad recognition that funding spent on infrastructure yields a substantial return on investment in economic activity. According to a 2015 study by the Business Roundtable, as much as three dollars in economic activity is generated by every dollar invested in infrastructure. But you all know that better than anyone. It’s why we are all here today to figure out how we meet this challenge.

“Two weeks ago, I went to the White House with Speaker Pelosi, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio, Chairman Richie Neal of the Ways and Means Committee, and other House leaders to talk to President Trump about the potential for bipartisan investments in infrastructure. We came out of that meeting with an agreement to work toward a $2 trillion package of infrastructure investment and – this is the important part – the understanding that the President would need to lead the way in proposing ways to pay for that historic investment, as Eisenhower had done with the Interstate Highway System, which has been so important to our economic success over the past sixty years.

“By the same analysis from the Business Roundtable that I just cited, this level of investment could produce as much as $6 trillion in increased economic activity. First, however, President Trump must lead as he promised to do in the 2016 campaign, in proposing ways to finance the $2 trillion investment he said he supports. In that meeting, I made it clear that Democrats are ready to work with the President and with Republicans in Congress to make much-needed investments in twenty-first century infrastructure that grows our economy and provides opportunities to workers and entrepreneurs.

“Private capital has a role to play, but there is no substitute for robust public investment, particularly in areas and on projects that don’t promise to yield profits for the private sector. Congress has an important role to play, and House Democrats are prepared to join the President in moving this issue forward.

“As many of you may know, since 2010 I’ve led an effort in the House called ‘Make It In America.’ Revised and reintroduced in 2017, our Make It In America plan for jobs and opportunity stands on three pillars: infrastructure, entrepreneurship, and education and skills training.

“Infrastructure investment has always been a core component of the plan, and it continues to be one of the major focal points of House Democrats’ efforts to help people across our country make it in America. Critical in any infrastructure endeavor is a focus on traditional investments in like roads, bridges, transit, seaports, and airports. They are the core on which any package will be built, but building a twenty-first century infrastructure means also focusing on things like broadband and wireless internet to ensure that all of our citizens have access to both.

“It means investing in a more resilient and reliable energy grid and transmission infrastructure and storage technology, so we can better integrate the energy we generate from renewable sources like solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal. And we can’t ignore the serious needs of our water and sewer infrastructure. Recent flooding in parts of the country, as well as the terrible and tragic experience of Flint, Michigan, have shown us how critical it is to repair and expand our water and sewer systems. We must ensure that our waste water does not pollute our waterways or our land and that inadequate storm water infrastructure does not lead to damage to homes, businesses, and economic activity.

“Investments in infrastructure will yield benefits in the near term and long term, with good jobs created immediately in construction and for local businesses and economic growth for communities for years to come. Our Committee Chairs are already hard at work on legislation to effect the kind of bold new investments in infrastructure we discussed with the President.

“Chairman Neal held a hearing in the Ways and Means Committee with testimony from members of this coalition – from business and labor – advocating not only to make these investments, but also how to pay for it sustainably. Chairman DeFazio has held several hearings in the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee – including one at which I testified – to understand the full extent of the challenges we need to meet. That’s just a selection of what our Committees have already done to move the ball forward.

“It’s critical, though, that Congress and the Administration see robust public support for moving forward with infrastructure investments. Policymakers need to see that our people are engaged and that workers and business leaders are paying attention. That’s what you have been doing and what you need to vigorously continue doing.

“As leaders from private industry, labor, trade associations, and economic think tanks, you have the ability to spread the word about how important this issue is for our country and its future. So, I urge you to use the platform you have this week and throughout the year to continue sending the message that infrastructure is the key to a stronger economic future for America. And that, if the President and Senate are truly committed to moving forward with a bipartisan infrastructure bill, there is no reason why we can’t get it done. Because Democrats are ready. The House is ready. The President must be ready to lead and convey to the American people the critical importance of substantial investment in infrastructure now and in the future. Democrats will play our role.

“We know that if our people are going to make it in America and if America is to be the leading economic power for the people, then substantial and sustained investment in infrastructure is absolutely essential. We have no time to waste. Thank you.”

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