Carbajal Discusses the Path Forward for Infrastructure Package
Highlights from the ‘Race to Rebuild’ Bipartisan Politico Infrastructure Panel
Washington, March 12, 2019
Congressman Salud Carbajal (CA-24), Vice Chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee, participated yesterday in an infrastructure panel hosted by Politico and the National League of Cities where they discussed the path forward for an infrastructure investment package in Congress this year.
With broad support from both Congress and the President for a robust infrastructure package, momentum continues to grow for investments in our roads, bridges, energy, water and other infrastructure projects. Current funding shortfalls will likely need to be addressed in an infrastructure package or surface transportation reauthorization set to expire in 2020.
Some highlights from Carbajal’s remarks on the "The Race to Rebuild: Fixing America's Infrastructure" panel include:
On funding infrastructure investments:
It means once and for all Congress coming together and stopping the bickering and political posturing and just really coming up with solutions and funding sources that we can all agree on to invest in our infrastructure.
I have served in local government for twelve years as a County Supervisor, so I know all the responsibilities you have [as local officials] and the partnership we share with the state and federal government.
This president has said early on that he is willing to invest and move forward on an infrastructure bill and I’m hoping he will do that.
On having a bill on the Floor by May:
I think it’s a little ambitious but if you don’t have an ambitious timeline, you’ll never get to it. While ambitious I think it’s good to shoot for something that keeps the energy and momentum behind it.
On coming up with revenue for the Highway Trust Fund:
Well if you look traditionally and historically it has been mostly from the general fund, that’s where majority of money has come from. What does that do? It adds a burden to our deficits that we are currently experiencing.
I think we need to look at a hybrid combination of revenues. We need to look at raising the gas tax which hasn’t been done since 1993, during the Clinton years. I think we also need to look at developing an infrastructure bank, a federal infrastructure bank that will provide low interest loans to states and local municipalities so that they can build infrastructure and provide a matching source, that’s a great partnership. We need to look maybe incorporating some VMT program components as well.
Certainly, there are many opportunities and we should be able to come together as Republicans and Democrats. I think you are going to see, at least in the House, a lot of solutions and options put forth, so I am looking at my Republican colleague to meet us halfway.
On climate change and infrastructure investments:
Well I think we need to provide incentives, so communities can step up to the plate and put in resilient design in all their infrastructure, be it to address sea level rise, be it to address energy efficiency.
We need to ensure that we are not only providing incentives, but we are also being very directive in what we mean by resiliency. I think local governments and states are stepping up to the plate and doing this on their own, what they need is a federal government that understands and that can step up and be a viable partner
On keeping momentum for infrastructure bills:
The National civil engineers say that by 2026 we need to invest 4.5 trillion dollars just to get our infrastructure to satisfactory. That’s a big haul. What I think we need to do is really work together, make sure everyone comes together and advocates for this, puts the pressure on Congress because the solutions are right in front of us, we just can’t seem to get it together.
I’m eager to put forth solutions to buckle down and really move something forward that will achieve us achieving an infrastructure bill. The question for us is going to be is it two sperate bills, the highway trust fund and the infrastructure bill, or is it going to be combined?
This panel comes shortly after Carbajal chaired T&I’s first climate change-focused hearing of the 116th Congress.