Legislative Activity

Congress Begins to Evaluate Infrastructure Needs, Senate EPW to Hold Hearing this Week

The Trump Administration has provided few specifics on its trillion-dollar infrastructure proposal, and it has become increasingly clear that Congress will not act on a broad infrastructure bill in the first 100 days of the new administration. Recently, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said the funding levels of any infrastructure proposal are unknown, and won’t be determined until Congress considers infrastructure funding in the greater context of the upcoming budget process this spring. To date, there is no consensus, even among Republicans, on how such infrastructure spending will be paid for.

However, Congress has begun to consider what issues and investments they will prioritize in an infrastructure bill by holding hearings in both the House and Senate. As we noted last week, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee will hold a hearing on “Oversight: Modernizing Our Nation’s Infrastructure” on Wednesday, February 8. The Senate EPW hearing follows last week’s kick-off hearing by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on “Building a 21st Century Infrastructure for America.”

Recently, Senate Democrats have released their own $1 trillion infrastructure proposal. Their plan, “A Blueprint to Rebuild America’s Infrastructure,” would invest $1 trillion in infrastructure projects over ten years and create 15 million new jobs. The plan calls for enormous increases in Federal grant spending for a wide range of transportation and infrastructure projects, including schools, VA hospitals, and broadband service. For transportation, the plan pledges $210 billion on roads and bridges; $110 billion on water and sewer systems; $180 billion on rail and bus systems; $200 billion for a Vital Infrastructure Program (VIP) for mega-projects; $65 billion for ports, airports, and waterways; and $10 billion for new innovative financing tools such as an infrastructure bank.

Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE) also recently introduced an infrastructure funding proposal, which would divert a total of $21.4 billion in revenues from Customs and Border Patrol fees to the Highway Trust Fund over FYs 2020-2024. Members of the House, including Rep. John Delaney (D-MD), are also advocating for their own infrastructure proposals.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • On Tuesday, February 7, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has scheduled a hearing titled “Accomplishing Postal Reform in the 115th Congress – H.R. 756, The Postal Service Reform Act of 2017.” The witnesses will be announced.
  • On Wednesday, February 8, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee has scheduled a hearing titled “A Look Ahead: Inspector General Recommendations for Improving Federal Agencies.” The witnesses will be:
    • The Honorable Peggy E. Gustafson, Inspector General, U.S. Department of Commerce;
    • The Honorable John Roth, Inspector General, U.S. Department of Homeland Security;
    • The Honorable Calvin L. Scovel III, Inspector General, U.S. Department of Transportation; and
    • Allison C. Lerner, Inspector General, National Science Foundation.
  • On Wednesday, February 8, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has scheduled a hearing titled “Oversight: Modernizing our Nation’s Infrastructure.” The witnesses will be:
    • William “Bill” T. Panos, Director, Wyoming Department of Transportation
    • Michael McNulty, General Manager, Putnam Public Service District, West Virginia
    • Cindy R. Bobbitt, Commissioner, Grant County, Oklahoma
    • Anthony P. Pratt, Administrator, President
    • Delaware Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control, American Shore & Beach Preservation Association
    • Shailen P. Bhatt, Executive Director, Colorado Department of Transportation