Today, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), the senior Northeastern Member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, issued the following statement on today’s expected introduction of H.R. 7, the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act – the newest federal surface transportation bill designed to fund the nation’s infrastructure needs for five years:
“I am pleased that my Republican colleagues have finally introduced their surface transportation legislation, and I thank Chairman Mica for his important work. However, I am concerned by a number of aspects of this proposal, which falls short of addressing the nation’s most pressing and longstanding problems of transportation, infrastructure and economic progress.
“For one, I am disturbed by the un-democratic and non-transparent fashion with which the majority has drafted and introduced its bill. Democrats have been left entirely out of the process and, now, after more than a year of waiting for this legislation, we have 48 hours to assimilate 800 pages before it is marked up. This is certainly not an inclusive and open process that encourages – or enables – bipartisan feedback. And we surely don’t have sufficient time to fully understand the implications of the policies being proposed.
“It is upsetting that House Republican Leadership continues to act with such divisiveness, rather than seeking bipartisan consensus and truly passable, workable legislation.
“Second, I am generally troubled by the treatment of programs critical to our nation’s economy, and to the New York region, namely: transit, environmentally friendly alternative transportation programs, rail freight, and projects of national and regional significance, which have critical national economic functions. As the language in the bill currently stands, these dedicated funding sources are either fundamentally reformed, or eliminated completely, shifting the burden to state-level agencies that lack the ability or resources to adequately address the transportation needs neglected in this bill.
“And I am concerned that we still haven’t seen the funding formulas that will be used to divide moneys among the states, as Congress has a history of attempting to shift funds from New York and other states which are more energy efficient.
“Finally, I have serious questions about the offsets employed to pay for such a bill. Using revenues from gas and oil drilling would not be an appropriate mechanism to pay for our nation’s infrastructure; and such a proposal is a twisted and ironic means of funding transit, rail and other environmentally sustainable modes of transportation.
“In an effort to improve this legislation, I plan to offer several amendments at the upcoming markup, specifically addressing regional projects, funding formulas, and other initiatives that are vital to our nation’s – and New York’s – economic future.”