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Secretary Pete Buttigieg Opening Testimony Before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

Secretary Pete Buttigieg

U.S. Department of Transportation

Testimony Before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

July 19, 2022

Chair DeFazio, Ranking Member Graves, and members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to speak with you. Before I begin, I’d like to thank you in particular, Chair DeFazio, for your 36 years of extraordinary service, and congratulate you on your upcoming retirement. There are few who can claim to have done more than you to champion safety, promote environmental justice, and advance our transportation systems to the benefit of all Americans.

I also want to acknowledge that earlier this year, we lost a member and former Chair of this committee—the late Representative Don Young, who represented the people of Alaska for nearly half a century and was often willing to cross the aisle to get things done for the American people. Thanks to leaders like Chair DeFazio, Representative Young, and so many of you, we now have the most transformative transportation investment in most of our lifetimes in the form of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

And it couldn’t have come at a more important time. From delays at ports, to freight congestion, to shortages in aviation, American transportation has rarely confronted this many intersecting challenges at once, both immediate and entrenched. Nearly 43,000 people died in traffic crashes last year—each of them a parent or child, colleague or friend. Transportation produces more carbon emissions than any other sector, at a time when the nations of the world are rallying to confront the climate challenge. And as Americans grapple with the effects of inflation, we know transportation is the second largest household expense after housing, affecting every family budget.

But this is also a moment of enormous opportunity with reason for optimism. Thanks to the infrastructure law, my Department has never seen a moment of greater potential than now—to build transportation resources that connect everyone safely, efficiently, and affordably to the things we need and the people we love.

Needless to say, we’ve been busy. We have already announced nearly $84 billion in grant funding from across the Department. Every few days we have another great announcement: bridge repair programs that will help us move goods more affordably and people more safely; a national electric vehicle charging network with the potential to bring cost-saving technology to rural communities and help fight the climate crisis; and safety initiatives that will reduce crashes and save lives, for example, getting rid of outdated railroad crossings to prevent tragedies like the one we saw in Chariton County.

Ranking Member Graves, my thoughts are with all your constituents, the passengers, and their families who were impacted by that derailment. DOT will continue to support NTSB's investigation and work to improve railroad safety nationwide.

From safety to reliability to affordability, name a dimension of transportation that you deal with in your daily life, and chances are, we’ve got a program for it. All this will help people get to where they need to go, while creating jobs and economic opportunity across the country.

You know better than anyone that passing the law is only the first step.  Success means delivering good projects that improve the lives of your constituents. Here are some examples of what we’re supporting:

Alpena, Michigan is a city of fewer than 10,000 people, where one of the largest employers is the local cement plant. We awarded the city funding to modernize their port, so it can bring in larger cargo ships. That means more business for the plant, more jobs for the people of Alpena, and better access to materials for manufacturers across the region.

Within the city limits of Baltimore, it can take hours to get from home to work if you don’t have a car. We’re funding ten new miles of dedicated bus lanes, to connect residential neighborhoods with major employers—a single corridor that supports more than 180,000 jobs.

In 2007, Findlay, Ohio—a town of about 40,000—flooded. Hundreds of homes and businesses were damaged or forced to move. Now, we’re helping Findlay replace a century-old railroad bridge with a modern ballast deck bridge that will not only help people get to work, but also reduce the risk of flooding damage.

These are among literally thousands of projects that will help Americans live and work where they want, help businesses deliver better products, and help families save for the future. They can even save lives.

In this good work, we will need your continued leadership and partnership—as well as that of communities across the country, organized labor, businesses, State, Tribal, and local officials, and so many more.

Together, we have the opportunity to improve countless lives, support good paying jobs, strengthen America’s manufacturers, modernize our infrastructure for decades to come, and cement America’s position as the world’s leading economy.

Thank you once more for inviting me to be here today. I look forward to your questions.

Secretary Pete Buttigieg
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