A 'Golden Opportunity' for a Realistic, Forward-Looking, Bipartisan Infrastructure Plan - Pa
In advance of APTA’s 2018 Legislative Conference, March 18-20, Passenger Transport asked Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA), chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, to share his thoughts on the likelihood of an infrastructure bill to fund public transportation programs.
Q: Chairman Shuster, we know you are an advocate for restoring the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund and that you would like to see an infrastructure bill passed soon—one that provides multi-year funding stability and builds on existing FAST Act programs. What do you feel are the prospects for such a bill?
A: This is a golden opportunity to improve our nation’s infrastructure. The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and Congress have passed major legislation in recent years for our infrastructure, including the FAST Act for our highways, bridges, transit and passenger rail, as well as multiple Water Resources Development Act bills for our ports, harbors, inland waterways, flood protection and other water infrastructure. With strong presidential leadership and the will of Congress, we can build upon these recent successes to make real investments in America, strengthen the underlying framework of our economy and get something done for the American people. I am confident that we can do this, if we follow a few key principles.
First of all, we have to work together. Only a bipartisan piece of legislation will pass the 60-vote threshold in the Senate and get to the president’s desk. We have already proven this is possible.
Transportation and Infrastructure Committee members have demonstrated their bipartisanship since I became chairman five years ago, and I look forward to working with Ranking Member [Peter] DeFazio [(D-OR)] and our colleagues in the House on this critical effort in the coming weeks.
My second point is that we must also be realistic. We have significant infrastructure needs across the country, from our urban centers to our small towns and rural communities. Furthermore, the federal government has a constitutional duty to provide for our infrastructure and facilitate commerce.
In order to fulfill our constitutional role with a bipartisan effort, we must realize that we will not attract Democratic support for an infrastructure plan if we don’t provide a significant federal component, and we will not attract Republican support if we do not pay for these real investments in a fiscally responsible way.
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