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America's GPA: D+
Estimated Investment Needed by 2020:
$3.6 Trillion

House T&I Committee Examines How to Build a 21st Century Infrastructure

February 2nd, 2017 | By: Laura Hale

Yesterday the House Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I) Committee held a hearing titled “Building a 21st Century Infrastructure for America.” It was the Committee’s first hearing in the 115th Congress and came on the heels of both President Trump’s pledge to focus on infrastructure and a trillion dollar infrastructure investment blueprint previewed by Senate Democrats last week. The panel of witnesses represented private industry (FedEx, Cargill, BMW and Vermeer) that relies on the country’s vast infrastructure networks, with the exception of Richard Trumka, President of AFL-CIO, whose union members build, maintain and operate much of the nation’s infrastructure. Getting the hearing off to a fiery start was Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-4th OR), who picked up right where he left off last Congress—emphasizing the need to fix the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) (a bit of background…in December of last year Rep. DeFazio gave an impassioned speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives during votes on the Water Resources Development Act, criticizing the final bill for not including language to spend down funds collected by the HMTF). Rep. DeFazio laid out three key areas he wants the Committee to focus on this year: indexing the gas tax to inflation, spending the existing $9 billion in the HMTF that has been used to offset a portion of the deficit and raising the cap on passenger facility charges for airports. Members of the Committee and witnesses agreed that these were important issues. David MacLennan, Chairman and CEO of Cargill, reminded legislators not to get carried away by dazzling new innovations like electric cars, microgrids and high-speed rail saying “As exciting as new technologies are, we should also think about our traditional assets. So the remainder of my testimony will focus not on the shiny objects, but on the ones that tend to get rusty: the rails, roads, bridges and waterways of rural America.” The panelists also all spoke about the importance of the federal government providing real funding to infrastructure projects, not just financing. Frederick W. Smith, Chairman and CEO of FedEx even went so far to say that he had been testifying in the T&I Committee room for 40 years and was ready to see real infrastructure investment. The Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee is expected to hold its own hearing examining infrastructure challenges and opportunities soon.

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House Passes Resolution Limiting Options to Fix the Highway Trust Fund

June 10th, 2016 | By: Laura Hale

Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed H. Con. Res. 112, a resolution introduced by Rep. Boustany (R-LA) and co-sponsored by 11 Republicans expressing Congress’ opposition to new fees on oil. As yesterday’s blog post highlighted, this resolution may be non-binding, but it puts Congress on the record in opposition to a viable option for fixing the Highway Trust Fund (HTF). Because the gas tax rate has not kept up with inflation, the HTF has been on the brink of insolvency many times in the past several years. Instead of addressing the HTF’s long-term solvency problem, Congress has relied on general funds transfers for the past eight years to prop up the fund, including most recently in the FAST Act. Rep. DeFazio (D-OR), ranking member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, spoke passionately in opposition to the resolution. In under 24 hours, over 200 advocates responded to ASCE’s action alert and contacted their representatives in opposition to H. Con. Res. 112. Along with 30 coalition partners, ASCE sent a letter to Congress opposing the resolution. Rep. Blumenauer (D-OR) read extensively from the letter in his remarks on the House floor. As a concurrent resolution, H. Con. Res. 112 will pass over the Senate for debate and vote. It remains to be seen if that body will pick up the measure.  

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Congressional Vote Could Limit Options to #FixTheTrustFund

June 9th, 2016 | By: Laura Hale

Tomorrow the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on H. Con. Res. 112, a concurrent resolution introduced by Rep. Boustany (R-LA) and co-sponsored by 11 Republicans that would express Congress’ opposition to new fees on oil. While non-binding, the resolution would put Congress on the record as opposing one option for fixing the Highway Trust Fund (HTF). For years now the HTF has been spending more than it has been bringing in. It has been propped up with $140 billion in general fund transfers since 2008. Its primary funding source, the motor fuels tax, has not been increased since 1993 and inflation has decreased its value by 40%. Unstable and insufficient federal funding for surface transportation is one the main reasons our infrastructure is in such poor shape. ASCE’s 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure gave our nation’s roads a D, our bridges a C+ and our transit a D. The U.S. is on track to invest less than half of what is needed in surface transportation over the next decade. This will have a cascading impact on our nation’s economy, impacting productivity, GDP, employment, personal income, international competitiveness, and, most importantly, public safety. Every year this funding gap is not addressed it will cost American families $3,400 – that’s $9 a day because of underperforming infrastructure. The HTF needs a long-term funding solution and in order to get there, all options need to be on the table. H. Con. Res. 112 would eliminate a viable funding alternative and does not offer any strategy to #FixTheTrustFund and repair America’s deteriorating transportation infrastructure. Along with 30 coalition partners, ASCE sent a letter to Congress standing up for infrastructure and opposing H. Con. Res. 112. Want to help #FixTheTrustFund? Tell your congressman to oppose H. Con Res. 112!

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ASCE Statement on the Senate Passage of H.R. 5021 to Sustain the Highway Trust Fund until December

July 29th, 2014 | By: America's Infrastructure Report Card

Washington, D.C. —The following is a statement from Randall (Randy) Over, P.E., President of The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) on the passage of H.R. 5021 in the U.S. Senate: “This evening, the United States Senate assured that road, bridge, and transit projects, along with countless American jobs, will be preserved until at least December 2014. We also congratulate the bipartisan majority of Senators who helped pass the Carper-Corker-Boxer amendment. This amendment will help our economy and put us on a path to actually fixing the Highway Trust Fund this year. “The Senate made a number of smart choices today. By rejecting Senator Lee’s ‘devolution’ amendment, a bipartisan Senate strongly reaffirmed the federal government’s role in America’s transportation future. We know that we cannot build a modern infrastructure system capable of meeting the demands of a 21st century economy without a national vision, and we are pleased to see so many Senators feel the same. “It is now up to the House to act and immediately pass the Senate bill. For some time now, the American Society of Civil Engineers has been urging Congress to #FixTheTrustFund. Through social media, blogs, videos, press interviews, and even a website—www.fixthetrustfund.org—the key word the entire time has been ‘fix.’ Today, the Senate decided that they want to fix the Trust Fund in 2014. “Americans are tired of seeing Congress hem and haw when it comes to making tough choices. Our nation’s infrastructure deficit is not going away until our leaders find the courage to address America’s changing needs. Infrastructure is the backbone of our national economy, and by moving from stop-gap to stop-gap, Congress is only injecting greater uncertainty into an already fragile economic recovery.  The time to fix the Highway Trust Fund is now. “Congress and the White House, Republicans and Democrats, all must come together to find a real solution to the Highway Trust Fund over the next five months. If we truly want to fix the Trust Fund, we need vision and leadership that is capable of looking beyond partisan divides and instead look for answers for renewed investment in America’s future.”

Founded in 1852, the American Society of Civil Engineers represents more than 145,000 civil engineers worldwide and is America’s oldest national engineering society. For more information, visit www.asce.org

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House Agrees to Conference

November 18th, 2013 | By: America's Infrastructure Report Card

The House agreed by unanimous consent to go to conference with the Senate on the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (HR 3080) last Thursday. Shortly after agreeing to go to conference Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) introduced a motion to instruct conferees on the National Dam Safety Program reauthorization.  The motion to instruct conferees asks, but cannot require, House conferees to take a certain negotiating position during the WRDA conference.  In this case, the motion to instruct conferees would cede to the Senate’s authorization of the dam safety program in S. 601, which provides at $9.2 million in grants, $500,000 for the National Dam Inventory, $1 million for public awareness, and $1.45 million for research.  ASCE strongly supports incorporating the Senate dam safety language and worked closely with Congressman Maloney’s office to garner support for the measure. The motion received praise from both sides of the aisle during debate and the final vote for the motion was 347 – 76. The House also selected 28 conferees for the WRDA conference that will now begin. The House appointed 16 Republicans and 12 Democrats from both the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and Natural Resources Committee. The conferees are: Bill Shuster (R-PA)                                                                    John Duncan (R-TN) Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) Sam Graves (R-MO) Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) Candice Miller (R-MI) Duncan Hunter (R-CA) Larry Bucshon (R-IN) Bob Gibbs (R-OH) Richard Hanna (R-NY) Daniel Webster (R-FL) Tom Rice (R-SC) Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) Rodney Davis (R-IL) Doc Hastings (R-WA) Rob Bishop (R-UT) Nick Rahall (D-WV) Peter DeFazio (D-OR) Corrine Brown (D-FL) Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) Tim Bishop (D-NY) Donna Edwards (D-MD) John Garamendi (D-CA) Janice Hahn (D-CA) Rick Nolan (D-MN) Lois Frankel (D-FL) Cheri Bustos (D-IL) Grace Napolitano (D-CA) The Senate agreed by unanimous consent on Oct. 31 to launch conference negotiations. The bills would authorize navigation, flood control and wetland restoration projects. Both versions were passed with bipartisan support in their respective chambers. ASCE urges Congress to conference the Water Resources Development Act quickly. Additionally, ASCE hopes to see a final package that expedites the regulatory and environmental review process, creates a national levee safety program, increases money spent out of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, and reauthorizes the National Dam Safety Program. At this time the biggest difference between the House and Senate bills are on how to select Army Corps of Engineers projects that will be authorized for funding as well as the creation of a national levee safety program, which the Senate bill would create, while the House bill would not.

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Transportation Bill Signed Into Law

July 9th, 2012 | By: America's Infrastructure Report Card

President Obama signed the surface transportation bill, MAP-21 (HR 4348), last Friday at the White House. The President’s signature comes 1,010 days after the last surface transportation bill, SAFETEA-LU, expired. The new $118 billion, 27 month piece of legislation will fund programs until September 2014. ASCE President Andrew Herrmann, P.E., SECB, F.ASCE, was in attendance for this afternoon’s signing ceremony.  Hundreds of ASCE Key Contacts assisted in this effort by responding to Key Alerts asking them to call, email or make visits with their elected officials to let them know how vital this legislation is to the nation’s infrastructure, and to the livelihoods of all Americans.  Thanks to all those who helped! For more information on the legislation and to see how your Senators and Representative voted on the final surface transportation bill please visit our “Transportation in Action” page.
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House and Senate Pass Transportation Bill

July 2nd, 2012 | By: America's Infrastructure Report Card

UPDATE: The House of Representatives passed the transportation conference report by a vote of 373-52 Friday afternoon. The Senate passed the bill 74-19.  The House and Senate worked vigorously all week to come to a compromise surface transportation conference report on Wednesday night. The announcement of a deal came over 1,000 days after the last surface transportation bill, SAFETEA-LU, expired in September 2009. The conference deal, which runs through the end of September 2014, will keep transportation spending at current levels and extend the authority to collect gasoline taxes through September 2016. The deal will be voted on today, first by the Senate, with the House following shortly thereafter. The bill is expected to pass through both chambers and be signed by the President before the 9th extension to surface transportation programs expires on Saturday. The House and Senate agreement on Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), will set highway spending at $39.7 billion in fiscal 2013 and $40.3 billion in fiscal 2014.  Mass transit formula grants would be set at $8.5 billion in fiscal 2013 and $8.6 billion in fiscal 2014. Additional revenues will mostly come from collecting revenues from changes to federal pensions and moving money from the Leaking Underground Storage Tank trust fund into the Highway Trust Fund. The new bill makes significant programmatic reforms, many of which ASCE has been long supported. The deal consolidates federal programs in an attempt to make them more competitive and streamlines the environmental review process to speed project delivery. The bill also has a focus on performance standards for highway and bridge maintenance, and ties some funding to whether states meet performance goals laid out in the bill. The TIFIA grant program will see a substantial increase to $750 million in 2013 and $1 billion in 2014, a move which ASCE strongly advocated for over the past few months. The TIFIA program will also now operate on a first-come, first served basis, removing evaluation criteria. Next, the Transportation Enhancements program will also see some changes. First, the program will now be called the Transportation Alternative program and each state will set-aside 2 percent of the amount apportioned for their enhancement activities. However, if these funds are not allocated within the state, the state may transfer up to 50% of those funds to other programs. MAP-21 also includes the RESTORE Act language, which would establish the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund. The trust fund would contain 80% of all penalties paid from parties responsible for the gulf coast oil spill in order to pay for the extensive clean-up efforts. ASCE, through the Water Resources Coalition has been supportive of the inclusion of the RESTORE Act language. Additionally, MAP-21 expands the ability of states to place tolls on any Federal-aid facility for any new capacity and removes the Bingaman amendment, which ASCE opposed, that would have reduced highway formula funds for states that sell or lease toll facilities to private companies. Finally, turning to research, the bill provides $400 million for transportation research and authorizes 35 competitive grants to be provided annually for University Transportation Centers, a move which ASCE supported. We’re happy to see that Congress came to a bipartisan agreement on surface transportation programs and worked to get a bill done by June 30th. However, it must be noted that this is just a critical first step to raising the grades for our nation’s surface transportation system. As ASCE has documented, we are not investing nearly enough to bring our roads, bridges, and transit systems to an acceptable condition that will serve our economy in the long-run. Therefore, ASCE will continue to work with Congress on a long-term, reliable funding source to meet these goals.
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SURFACE TRANSPORTATION BILL STILL UNCERTAIN

June 1st, 2012 | By: America's Infrastructure Report Card

The House this week was initially faced with a vote on a motion to instruct conferees to cut transportation funding levels, only to have that motion withdrawn late Thursday afternoon on a technical issue. The motion from Representative Paul Broun (R-GA) would have tied Highway Trust Fund expenditures to estimated gas tax revenues, essentially cutting the nation’s surface transportation program by an estimated thirty percent. By asking that the conference report not exceed $37.9 billion in federal spending in 2012 and $37.5 billion in 2013,  there would be approximately $17 billion less in spending than the Senate’s two-year bill and $15 billion less than H.R. 7.  ASCE strongly opposed the motion and sent a letter to all Members of the House of Representative urging them to vote against the measure. It is uncertain when Representative Broun will seek a different time to bring up his motion again, although it is expected he will reintroduce it sometime mid to late next week. Meanwhile, conference committee talks are beginning to wear down. Negotiations on the funding title for a new program have yet to commence, while disagreements over streamlining provisions have threatened talks. Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) continues to work toward passing a bill by June 30th, but has urged organizations to continue to push House Republicans on the importance of passing a bill now, as opposed to another extension. The Transportation Construction Coalition, of which ASCE is a member, held its annual legislative fly-in this week. Over 400 representatives of the engineering and construction industry, including some ASCE members and staff, hit Capitol Hill on Thursday to urge their legislators to support a surface transportation bill. Before members went on Congressional visits they heard from Conference Committee Vice-Chairman John Mica (R-FL), House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Nick Rahall (D-WV), and staff from the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Key Contacts on Thursday got a first-hand briefing on transportation authorization from senior Senate staff actively involved in the current conference committee negotiations. Bettina Poirier, staff director for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and David Napoliello, senior policy advisor for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, briefed Key Contacts during a conference call Thursday afternoon, saying that staff and the conferees understand that maintaining the status quo in the form of further extensions of SAFETEA-LU is simply no longer acceptable.  They continue to work toward developing a conference report before the current extension runs out June 30, and they remain optimistic that this can happen.  

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Transportation Conference Committee Kicks Off Talks

May 9th, 2012 | By: America's Infrastructure Report Card

The surface transportation conference committee commenced its first meeting yesterday, with Senate and House conferees taking the opportunity to give opening remarks on what is anticipated to be one of the final hurdles in passing a transportation bill. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), author of MAP-21 (S. 1813) and chair of the conference committee, began the meeting with a statement highlighting the bipartisan Senate bill. Sen. Boxer stressed that “failure is not an option” and implored members to act quickly in hashing out compromise legislation, setting a target of early June for a deal to be struck. She was followed by Representative John Mica (R-FL), selected as vice-chair of the conference, who also stressed the economic importance of a bill. The issues of Keystone XL, funding and financing options, an amendment stripping EPA of regulatory power over coal ash, and House language streamlining environmental policy still remained the most important issues needing compromise. However, it did appear during many of the remarks there existed support for the RESTORE Act, Senate TIFIA language, as well as the RAMP Act. The RESTORE Act would direct fines from oil companies responsible for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill to Gulf Coast restoration and clean-up efforts, and the RAMP Act would ensure revenue in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund be dedicated and used solely for harbor maintenance programs. The general feeling throughout the opening statements was far less acrimonious than the House Transportation and Infrastructure markup of H.R. 7, which saw lawmakers bicker over amendments into the early hours of the morning this past February. Throughout the opening statements, the majority of lawmakers around the table stressed how critical it was to work quickly to get this done and how vital a bill is to job creation, with both sides stressing the need to work for the American people. One memorable line came from Representative Nick Rahall, the ranking minority member on the House T&I committee – “we cannot let hard heads get in the way of hard hats”.

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Congressional Recess Is Here, But A Surface Transportation Compromise Is Not Near

April 3rd, 2012 | By: America's Infrastructure Report Card

Congress went home last Friday for a two week recess after punting action on surface transportation another 90 days. Surface transportation programs have been running on a series of extensions for 916 days already, and this 9th extension will continue to add up the count until June 30th. Many in the transportation industry have grown extremely concerned that the House will not take action over the next three months and that programs will have to continue to run on extensions until after the November elections. Frustrations are at a boiling point now as state’s deal with the continued uncertainty coming from Capitol Hill, and as Republicans and Democrats continue to disagree on a path forward in the House. Legislators need to hear from their constituents why passing a new multi-year surface transportation bill is critical and why a continued series of extensions is unacceptable. Use the two week House recess to meet with your representative and tell them how the lack of a new surface transportation bill affects the civil engineering profession, your company, and your community.  Share your stories with them in either a local town hall or by scheduling a meeting in a district office. While your Representative is home let’s use this opportunity to explain to legislators why a new bill is critical and let’s not allow their time at home to be a way to escape the needs of our nation’s infrastructure. Over the next 90 days ASCE will continue to urge the House of Representatives to take up and pass a bipartisan surface transportation bill, but with your help the message will really hit home! For continuous updates through June 30th, follow us on Twitter (http://twitter.com/#!/ascegovrel) and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Save-Americas-Infrastructure/213409032028360?sk=wall).

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