It's time to GROW AMERICA
About two weeks ago, I hopped on a bus and traveled through eight states to tour this country’s infrastructure.
Along the way I met Jada, a high school senior in Atlanta who can only get to school by way of the 6 a.m. transit bus. I also met Scott Davis, the CEO of UPS, who asked me to do what we can to improve this country’s freight network. Because, for every five minutes the UPS fleet is delayed in traffic, the company loses $100 million a year. And I met Wayne, a 28-year veteran of the Norwood, Ohio, Siemens plant. Wayne helps build locomotive engines, and he very likely wouldn’t have his job without the investments this country has made in rail.
President Obama and the entire administration are focused every day on expanding opportunity for Americans like Jada, Scott, and Wayne. In today's economy, that means building first-class infrastructure that helps Jada get to school, Scott move more goods, and Wayne do his job, building more locomotives.
That’s why, earlier this year, the President laid out his vision for investing in America’s infrastructure through a four year surface transportation reauthorization bill.
The proposal comes at a crucial moment for transportation. As soon as August, the Highway Trust Fund could run dry. States are already canceling or delaying projects. That means crucial road improvements won't get done. It means transportation construction companies won't get contracts. And it means workers won't have job sites.
The only way we’re going to change this is if everyone puts their ideas on the table and has an honest discussion where we find common ground and forge a path forward together.
Which is why today, I’m sending a legislative proposal to Congress that is designed to do exactly that: bring ideas to the table.
Already, we’ve seen both parties make significant progress towards a bipartisan agreement on a multi-year bill that extends opportunity for workers and businesses alike. We believe our bill will help continue that progress.
The GROW AMERICA bill is based on the proposal the President announced in February. It ensures the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund and also advances a number of common-sense bipartisan reforms:
- Cut down the time it takes projects to be approved and permitted, while still protecting communities and the environment. (In other words, more hard hats, less red tape).
- Strengthen our freight networks to support trade and economic growth, specifically by investing in rail, highway, and port projects; and
- Create incentives to align planning and investment decisions so we can address regional economic needs, and give cities and towns a louder voice in how we allocate federal funding in their communities.
At the end of the day, the important thing is that we pass a bill that:
- Avoids a destructive lapse in funding that would threaten hundreds of thousands of jobs and inflict unnecessary damage on our economy.
- Creates millions of good new jobs building the infrastructure America will need to remain competitive in today’s economy.
- Provides certainty to state and local governments and allows them to engage in long-term planning and make the investments we need.
Investing in our nation's infrastructure has always been a bipartisan endeavor. Since the Highway Trust Fund was first established more than half a century ago, Congress has consistently voted with broad bipartisan majorities to invest in America’s growth. And they have consistently voted together for funding increases to better meet the nation’s needs. And there are signs we can do so again.
The Administration believes that a comprehensive approach to reforming our business taxes could fund transportation projects. And already, we’ve seen leaders in Congress – like Chairman Dave Camp, a Republican, and Senator Barbara Boxer, a Democrat – express their openness to business tax reform, as well.
So, there is no reason why Republicans and Democrats can’t join together this time and provide for increased investment so we can address the backlog of deficient bridges and aging transit systems that threaten to slow our commutes and slow our economy.
By working together, we can Grow America.