U.S. Chamber Calls for Speed in Infrastructure Investments

Jan 25, 2010

Investing in transportation infrastructure and creating the accompanying jobs should be a “no-brainer” and should not be held up by health care and climate change legislation, according to U.S. Chamber President and CEO Tom Donohue.

In a January 21 video address to Kentuckians for Better Transportation, Donohue called on attendees to urge Congress to focus on maintaining, modernizing, and expanding the nation’s transportation infrastructure. “If ever there is an issue that should enjoy bipartisan support, it should be infrastructure investment,” Donohue said. “Unfortunately, some of our elected officials would rather make it another political football. I’m telling you today that if elected officials are out there saying that these critical investments are ‘wasteful spending’ they are dead wrong. That’s an anti-business, anti-jobs, anti-growth message that the Chamber won’t stand for.”

Donohue outlined the robust transportation agenda that Congress needs to tackle in 2010—reauthorization of highway, transit, aviation, and water resources infrastructure laws—and identified three requirements to fulfill the vision of a well-funded, well-maintained, connected infrastructure system:

  • Sense of Urgency: “The notion that Congress should postpone work on major infrastructure bills until it’s finished with health care and climate change, or even after the mid-term election, is a bad idea. This is part of Congress’ fundamental business, and there’s no excuse for delay,” Donohue said.
  • More Resources: All funding and financing options need to be considered, from increasing federal gas taxes for highways and transit, to unlocking new sources of capital through direct private investment and public-private partnerships.. “Finding the money is primarily a problem of political will,” said Donohue.
  • Cutting Red and Green Tape: “Consistency and expediency in the permitting and siting processes is imperative—we need those jobs,” Donohue said. The Chamber is prepared to work with governments at all levels to remove these unnecessary barriers.

Separately, the Chamber-led Americans for Transportation Mobility (ATM) coalition sent a letter to members of Congress, pointing to the vital role last year’s stimulus bill played in supporting the transportation construction sector and its suppliers and helping set the groundwork for economic recovery. The bill provided $48.1 billion for transportation investments in highways, transit, roads, bridges, and airport construction and maintenance to help spur job creation. “As Congress works to address persistent unemployment, the ATM Coalition strongly urges you to build on what was provided through the stimulus bill by supporting additional near-term investment for highways and public transportation while simultaneously making every effort to restore certainty to the underlying federal transportation programs,” the letter said.

Read Donohue’s full speech.

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