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May 10, 2022 2:55 PM, EDT

Buttigieg Touts Infrastructure Grants Proposal

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg"We understand that the tremendous opportunity we’ve been given to help modernize our country’s infrastructure comes with a profound responsiblity, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg says. (Samuel Corum/Bloomberg News)

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Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg pointed to grants proposed by the Biden White House for fiscal 2023 as funding that potentially could modernize major aspects of the country’s mobility network.

During a U.S. House appropriations panel hearing May 10, Buttigieg emphasized the $1.5 billion requested for the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) program would assist state agencies with improving existing infrastructure. Such improvements ideally would facilitate the movement of freight along supply chains.



“We understand that the tremendous opportunity we’ve been given to help modernize our country’s infrastructure comes with a profound responsibility to use taxpayer dollars efficiently and wisely, and to make resources more accessible to state and local governments so they can build good projects,” the secretary told the House Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee.

Overall, President Joe Biden is requesting $142 billion in fiscal 2023 for the U.S. Department of Transportation.

“This type of infrastructure transformation only happens at most once every generation, and it only happens if we work together,” Buttigieg added.

Specific to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which regulates the trucking industry, the president is requesting $367.5 million for safety operations and programs. For FMCSA’s safety grants division, the budget proposes $506.1 million.

Per background from the U.S. Department of Transportation: “FMCSA’s fiscal-year 2023 budget, in concert with the bipartisan infrastructure law, will set the stage for forward-facing investments to address current realities and future visions for interstate commerce, [commercial motor vehicle] operations and driver safety.”

Other Budget Requests

$23.6 billion for aviation modernization

$4.45 billion for major transit projects

$3 billion for safety programs at the Federal Highway Administration

$230 million for port projects

The secretary also expressed confidence that the recently enacted $1 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act would assist state agencies with modernization efforts. That law is commonly referred to as the bipartisan infrastructure law. More than $500 billion for highway-centric projects, with a focus on climate change, gained approval under the law.

The panel’s top Democrats welcomed the president’s budget proposal. They pointed to the administration’s aim of improving safety, accessibility and equity across the transportation landscape.

Rep. David Price

Price

“The president’s budget allows for new or improved service across all modes that will emphasize safety, environmental sustainability, equitable communities and transportation options and resiliency in the face of extreme weather conditions,” Rep. David Price (D-N.C.), the subcommittee’s chairman, said. “It builds on this subcommittee’s commitment to examine and address some of the disparate impacts that the federal government has contributed to through the creation of our interstate highway system under the guise of urban renewal.”

Sen. Brian Schatz

Schatz

Senate funding leaders have echoed their House counterparts’ viewpoints. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), the transportation appropriations subcommittee chairman, highlighted the focus on sustainability and resilience.

“I’m glad to see a sustained focus on addressing climate change,” he said. “It continues to build on the nation’s electric vehicle infrastructure, and it advances research into alternative aviation fuels and stronger fuel-economy standards which would reduce carbon emissions by 2.5 billion metric tons.”

Republicans, meanwhile, have pushed back on ongoing directives recommending state agencies fix existing infrastructure projects prior to pursuing new ones.
Congressional appropriators have yet to schedule consideration of the fiscal 2023 transportation funding legislation. Federal funding authorization expires at the end of September.

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