Bipartisan interest in US infrastructure
Mid-term elections and the effect of a divided Congress on the US aggregates industry
THE results of the US mid-term elections are in, and significant changes are coming to Congress, especially to the House Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I) Committee.
After a record number of voters turned out for the 2018 mid-term elections on Tuesday, the US Senate saw Republicans increase their majority, whilst Democratic candidates won a majority of seats in the US House of Representatives.
With a new majority party in control of the House, new committee chairs will be appointed, with Congressman Peter DeFazio first in line to chair the T&I Committee under the new Democratic House majority.
An advocate of increasing funding for the Highway Trust Fund, he has vowed that a top priority will be making the Trust Fund solvent. ‘We’ve got to get back to being number one in the world again, and you’re going to be a key part of that,’ he said to National Stone Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA) members at the 2018 Legislative & Policy Forum.
Mr DeFazio and Democratic leaders are planning to pursue a major US transportation and infrastructure measure in the 116th Congress. Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi has said it may be something Democrats can do with the Republican president.
‘One of my things is build, build, build,’ she said at a 22 October event hosted by CNN. ‘Build the infrastructure of America from sea to shining sea. Not only surface transportation but broadband and water systems.’
A few days earlier President Trump said in an interview on Fox Business News that ‘infrastructure is going to be starting after the mid-terms and we think that’s going to be an easy one.’
With bipartisan interest in infrastructure, NSSGA says it will continue to build on advocacy efforts over the past two years. ‘An infrastructure bill is something that President Trump and lawmakers seem to agree on, and we will continue to advocate for a serious and sustainable investment in our country’s infrastructure, said Michael W. Johnson, president and chief executive officer of NSSGA.
‘Fixing the funding mechanics of the Highway Trust Fund and improving our aging roads will allow goods and services to move faster and safer, create jobs and allow people to travel to work more safely. When you do all of that, our economy can grow. That is why we encourage all lawmakers to work together, because better infrastructure leads to a better America.’
With a Democratic majority in the House likely to mean additional hearings for committees with oversight of the Mine Safety and Health Administration and Environmental Protection Agency, Mr Johnson explained that aggregates companies have an opportunity to educate people about the importance of aggregates and the costs of overly burdensome regulations.
‘In September, hundreds of people came to D.C. to show lawmakers the ways that many regulations, which are not based on common sense or sound science, delay or derail critical infrastructure improvements,’ he said. ‘We have an opportunity, as an industry, to keep making our voice heard loud and clear on Capitol Hill this year.’