House Republicans introduced H.R. 7, the American Energy & Infrastructure Jobs Act, a $260 billion proposal designed to repair the country’s infrastructure, reauthorize transportation programs for five years and remove barriers to domestic energy production. Republicans say it will create long-term, private-sector job growth by cutting red tape and lowering government barriers to American energy production. Democrats say it doesn't go far enough, and it’s a gift to the oil industry.
“The American Energy & Infrastructure Jobs Act is the largest transportation reform bill since the creation of the Interstate Highway System in 1956,” said Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), the chairman of the House committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. “This bill will put Americans back to work rebuilding our roads and bridges and developing new sources of low cost energy. This legislation may be the most important jobs measure to pass Congress this year.”
The bill authorizes $260 billion over five years to fund the federal highway system, and it would delegate more power to the states to set priorities for the money. “There are significant gaps between what is projected to be needed, which is very large, and the solutions that are proposed,” said Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) “We ought to stop playing pretend. We have very substantial infrastructure needs. Addressing those infrastructure needs will both make us more competitive and create jobs, and we ought to address those, again, in a fashion that has sufficient resources to make sure that we’re competitive and creating the jobs that we need and the infrastructure we need to be competitive."
The National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA) commended the U.S. House of Representatives for a "multi-year surface transportation bill that maintains current funding levels, provides state departments of transportation with the long-term vision necessary to execute their priority projects and provides businesses certainty, which is essential to making informed resource allocation decisions, and will put the aggregates and construction industries – badly impacted by the recession – on the path to full employment."
“The surface transportation reauthorization now moving in the House and Senate is the jobs bill for which Congress has been searching,” said NSSGA Chairman of the Board David Thomey, executive vice president, Maryland Materials Inc., North East, Md. “Passage of a multi-year bill that maintains level funding, at a minimum, is essential for continued economic recovery and growth, job creation, increased safety, cleaner air and preservation of the freedom of mobility that all Americans treasure. The time for Congress to act is now!”
NSSGA President and CEO Joy Wilson said, “NSSGA has long supported the passage of a well-funded, multi-year surface transportation reauthorization bill. Presidents Reagan and Clinton recognized the importance of highway investment to the economy during their respective presidencies regardless of their political views. Both presidents believed this investment to be critical to the future of America. At a time when cuts in federal spending are the focus of nearly every major battle on Capitol Hill, we urge Congress to act swiftly in bipartisan accord to restore our roads, the foundation upon which all other infrastructure depends.”
NSSGA said it will continue to press Congress to pass a multi-year bill that maintains level funding at a minimum before expiration of the current law extension on March American Road & Transportation Builders Association President and CEO Pete Ruane praised the bill and urged the House to boost investment levels.
“The surface transportation reauthorization process has been gridlocked on Capitol Hill for 28 months," Ruane said. "With action in several House committees this week on a multi-year bill, the logjam is beginning to break free. We commend the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee and other congressional leaders for their commitment to move the legislation forward. At the same time, however, the measure would authorize less for the core federal highway and transit programs than what Congress approved for FY 2011. As the legislative process continues to play out, we trust members of the House and Senate will continue to explore ways to boost investment levels and prevent job loss. It is essential that the House advance its multi-year bill. After more than two years of can-kicking, it’s time to get the job done. The transportation construction industry needs a bill, the American people need a bill, and the U.S. economy needs a bill.”