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Chair DeFazio Leads 30 Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Members in Urging Congressional Leadership to Include Transformational Policies from the INVEST in America Act in Infrastructure Legislation

July 21, 2021

DeFazio and Members to Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Schumer: “We won’t resolve these problems by continuing the status quo and spending more money through a broken and outdated system”

 

Washington, DC – Today, Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and 30 Democratic Members of the Committee sent a letter urging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to provide House Members with the opportunity to advocate for the transformational policies included in the INVEST in America Act in any bicameral infrastructure legislation. The House passed the INVEST in America Act earlier this month by a bipartisan vote.

In their letter, the Members underscored the extensive work and deliberation that went into creating the House-passed surface transportation and water infrastructure legislation. Specifically, the Members note that the INVEST in America Act was the product of bipartisan meetings with over 70 stakeholder groups, more than 20 Committee hearings, and incorporates over 300 amendments. The bill also contains nearly 1,500 Member Designated Projects requested by Republicans and Democrats, which would make much-needed infrastructure investments in communities across the country.

“The INVEST in America Act delivers meaningful, transformational policy solutions,” the Members wrote. “For the first time, the bill provides resources for states and communities to tackle transportation greenhouse gas emissions, the leading cause of U.S. carbon pollution, and to mitigate the effects of the climate crisis that are occurring today. It employs a ‘fix-it-first’ approach, ensuring that states maintain a state of good repair and consider affordable and efficient alternatives to reduce congestion. It makes a long-overdue commitment to expanding and improving the U.S. passenger rail network—providing Americans with better access to one of the most climate-friendly transportation options. It supports the repair and rebuilding of crumbling bridges, and provides dedicated resources for major bridge projects, off-system bridge repairs, and critical Tribal and rural bridges. The bill strengthens our commitment to safety for all users by reforming federal design standards, building complete streets, and investing in safety measures that will save lives on our roadways.”

The Members continued: “Many of these critical reforms are not included or have not been fully addressed through the Senate bipartisan infrastructure process. We should reject any effort to categorically exclude the thorough, transparent, and transformational process undertaken by the House.”

This letter comes on the heels of a “Dear Colleague” letter (available here) DeFazio sent on Tuesday evening to House Members urging them to support a process that allows for negotiation and input from both chambers as Congress continues to work to deliver a transformational infrastructure bill.

The full letter text can be found below and here.

July 21, 2021

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi                                                   The Honorable Charles Schumer                            

Speaker of the House                                                              Senate Majority Leader    

U.S. House of Representatives                                                 United States Senate 

H-232, U.S. Capitol                                                                 S-230, U.S. Capitol   

Washington, DC 20515                                                           Washington, DC 20510                                                                                 

Dear Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer:

We write to request your support in ensuring a bicameral negotiation prior to the passage of any final infrastructure package. While we applaud the work of the Senate towards advancing a bipartisan infrastructure bill, we remain concerned about suggestions that the House may take up any Senate product without input or modification. We believe that the final package will be strengthened by a negotiation that allows House Members to advocate for the programs, policies, and provisions included in the INVEST in America Act.

The House has extensively deliberated and passed legislation that covers core pieces of the expected Senate product. The INVEST in America Act was the product of bipartisan meetings with over 70 stakeholder groups, and more than 20 Committee hearings were held specific to policy areas addressed in the legislation. Since the introduction of H.R. 2 in June of 2020, the INVEST Act has been modified significantly based on feedback from Members on both sides of the aisle, stakeholders, and constituents. This legislation incorporates more than 100 bills sponsored by House Members. In total, between consideration of the bill in the 116th and 117th Congress, there were 1,299 amendments offered to the INVEST Act and the text of H.R. 3684, as passed by the House, incorporates over 300 amendments, including 70 Republican amendments.

But this is not just a question of a fair process for Members on our side of the Capitol. America is facing serious challenges—crumbling infrastructure, the threat of climate change, inequality and racial injustice, and foreign adversaries that threaten our domestic workforce and manufacturing sectors. The decisions we make about how we invest in and rebuild our nation’s infrastructure will play a significant role in determining how we confront these challenges. We won’t resolve these problems by continuing the status quo and spending more money through a broken and outdated system. We can’t afford to lock in failed highway-centric policies for another five years.

The INVEST in America Act delivers meaningful, transformational policy solutions. For the first time, the bill provides resources for states and communities to tackle transportation greenhouse gas emissions, the leading cause of U.S. carbon pollution, and to mitigate the effects of the climate crisis that are occurring today. It employs a “fix-it-first” approach, ensuring that states maintain a state of good repair and consider affordable and efficient alternatives to reduce congestion. It makes a long-overdue commitment to expanding and improving the U.S. passenger rail network—providing Americans with better access to one of the most climate-friendly transportation options. It supports the repair and rebuilding of crumbling bridges, and provides dedicated resources for major bridge projects, off-system bridge repairs, and critical Tribal and rural bridges. The bill strengthens our commitment to safety for all users by reforming federal design standards, building complete streets, and investing in safety measures that will save lives on our roadways.

The INVEST Act dedicates resources for those who are too often left behind, including low-income communities, communities of color, individuals with disabilities, Tribes, territories, and communities that lack access to safe and affordable transportation options. It includes planning and project selection reforms that ensure multimodal access to jobs and services. The bill invests in projects to reconnect neighborhoods that were torn apart by prior infrastructure development and dedicates resources to support urban and rural persistent poverty communities. The bill provides record funding to local communities of all sizes through increased suballocation and new, locally-targeted discretionary grant opportunities. The bill protects communities affected by frequently-blocked rail crossings that cut communities off from essential services.

The bill positions America to compete in the clean energy economy through record investment in sustainable modes including transit, rail, walking, and cycling, alongside dedicated investments in electric vehicle charging infrastructure and zero-emission transit buses. It increases resources for University Transportation Centers, helping to build the transportation workforce of the future. And every dollar in the bill is backed by strong labor protections and increased Buy America standards, ensuring that as we rebuild our infrastructure, we can also rebuild the American middle class.

For the first time in a decade, the legislation included a bipartisan Member Designated Project process, which will support nearly 1,500 projects in cities, towns, and communities across the country. The projects were subject to strict transparency and ethics requirements and represent a new path forward for ensuring that Members—who know the needs of their districts—can provide support for vital local transportation projects that too often get overlooked.

Many of these critical reforms are not included or have not been fully addressed through the Senate bipartisan infrastructure process. We should reject any effort to categorically exclude the thorough, transparent, and transformational process undertaken by the House.

As the Senate continues work on an infrastructure bill, we urge you to ensure that any product from the Senate will be conferenced with the provisions of the INVEST in America Act.

We must seize this opportunity to reform and rebuild our transportation system to meet the challenges of today and reject efforts to sacrifice this urgently needed work simply to expedite the passage of a status quo bill. This is best accomplished through a process that allows for negotiation and input from both chambers, and we ask for your support in ensuring this as we continue to work to deliver a transformational infrastructure bill. 

Sincerely,
Peter A. DeFazio
Chair
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

Eleanor Holmes Norton
Chair
Subcommittee on Highways and Transit

Eddie Bernice Johnson
Member of Congress

Rick Larsen
Chair
Subcommittee on Aviation

Grace F. Napolitano
Chair
Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment

Steve Cohen
Member of Congress

Albio Sires
Member of Congress

John Garamendi
Member of Congress

Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr.
Member of Congress

André Carson
Member of Congress

Dina Titus
Chair
Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management

Jared Huffman
Member of Congress

Julia Brownley
Member of Congress

Frederica S. Wilson
Member of Congress

Donald M. Payne, Jr.
Chair
Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials

Alan Lowenthal
Member of Congress

Mark DeSaulnier
Member of Congress

Stephen F. Lynch
Member of Congress

Salud Carbajal
Chair
Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation

Anthony G. Brown
Member of Congress

Tom Malinowski
Member of Congress

Greg Stanton
Member of Congress

Jesús G. “Chuy” García
Member of Congress

Chris Pappas
Member of Congress

Seth Moulton
Member of Congress

Jake Auchincloss
Member of Congress

Kaiali’i Kahele
Member of Congress

Marilyn Strickland
Member of Congress

Nikema Williams
Member of Congress

Marie Newman
Member of Congress

Troy A. Carter, Sr.
Member of Congress

–30–

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