DeFazio Touts Benefits of Infrastructure Plan

Peter DeFazio
Rep. Peter DeFazio is expected to kick off debate on surface transportation policy in the coming weeks. (House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee)

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President Joe Biden’s $2.25 trillion infrastructure proposal would address environmental concerns and enhance the business landscape nationwide, said the top transportation policymaker in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Further, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters April 6, the president expects Congress to advance an infrastructure measure.

“He won’t tolerate inaction on rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, something that has long been outdated,” Psaki said.

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), chairman of the transportation panel, is among the congressional Democrats touting the president’s comprehensive plan. He is expected to kick off debate on surface transportation policy in the coming weeks.

“We can rebuild it, give ourselves a 21st-century system resilient to climate change and severe weather events, sea level rise, and we can also deal with fossil fuel pollution, and help people with their daily lives in terms of their commutes and help American business be more competitive in the world,” DeFazio during a cable news broadcast.

“This is not just once-in-a-generation. It [has] been, you know, more than a generation since we’ve tackled this problem,” he continued.

Members of Congress return to Washington from their Easter recess April 12. House Democrats say they intend to legislate on the infrastructure proposal next month. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) singled out DeFazio to help lead the effort. As she put it, referring to the transportation chairman: “Our hopes are riding on you.”

Proponents of a big-picture approach to modernizing the country’s mobility grid call for investments in severe weather-resilience infrastructure projects, facilitating access to electric and autonomous vehicle technology, and upgrading transit systems, airports, ports and railways.

Biden’s plan calls for investing $115 billion for highways, roads and bridges, $85 billion for transit, $80 billion for Amtrak, $25 billion for airports and $17 billion for inland ports. It also promotes equity initiatives. To fund the plan, the president is calling for raising the corporate tax rate to 28% from the 21% levy set in 2017.

“He believes that we need to invest in that so we can improve the lives of ordinary Americans and make it easier to do business,” Psaki said. “He also believes that investment, investments in long-term economic growth will create good-paying jobs.”


Polly Trottenberg listens during her confirmation hearing March 3. (Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg)

Besides infrastructure policy, senators will be tasked with considering the nominations of key officials for the Biden administration.

Among the nominees awaiting Senate action is Polly Trottenberg to become deputy secretary at the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Last month, the Senate Commerce Committee cleared Trottenberg’s nomination to the full chamber. A vote on her confirmation is expected this month.

If confirmed, she would become Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s deputy.

Trottenberg told senators during her confirmation hearing, “The Department of Transportation’s highest priority will always be safety, across all modes, including aviation, roadways, mass transit, rail, waterways and pipelines. In response to the pandemic, the Biden administration has made the safety of the traveling public and the transportation workforce a top goal.”

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