Evening News Roundup: Gov. Rendell's Testimony
Coverage of Building America’s Future Co-Chair and Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell Testifying before House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on the Federal Role in America’s Infrastructure
**Updated Thursday, February 15, 2013, 12:36PM
Bloomberg: New House Transportation Head Defends U.S. Highway Role
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster used his first hearing to head off fellow Republicans who support paring the U.S. highway program and sending more money to the states.
The Trucker: Hearing highlights federal role in infrastructure and economic importance of transportation system
Washington, D.C. – The Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure held its first hearing of the 113th Congress today focusing on the importance of infrastructure to the U.S. economy and examining the role played by the federal government in ensuring safe, efficient and reliable infrastructure.
Washington Post: At hearing on nation’s crumbling infrastructure, money is the theme
Hours after President Obama asked Congress to address “an aging infrastructure badly in need of repair,” the gavel came down Wednesday on a House hearing at which committee members were told:
Pittsburg Post-Gazette: Rendell calls for increase in tax on gasoline, Ex-governor testifies about infrastructure
WASHINGTON -- Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell is asking Congress to create an infrastructure bank, consider increasing the gas tax, allow states to toll more highways and provide more grants for multistate projects.
Reuters: Business group backs higher gas tax to fix highway system
(Reuters) - A leading business group on Wednesday threw its support behind the politically unpopular idea of raising the federal gasoline tax to help fund trillions of dollars in projected U.S. infrastructure needs.
Reuters: UPDATE 2-U.S. business group backs higher gas tax to fix highway system
WASHINGTON, Feb 13 (Reuters) - A leading U.S. business group on Wednesday threw its support behind the politically unpopular idea of raising the federal gasoline tax to help fund trillions of dollars in projected U.S. infrastructure needs.
The Hill: Rendell: Gas tax increase 'inescapable'
An increase in taxes that are collected by the federal government when drivers purchase gas for their cars is "inescapable," former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) said Wednesday.
Trucking Info: Infrastructure Featured in State of Union, House Hearing
Infrastructure had its moment in the spotlight this week as President Obama called for most-needed repairs funded in part by private investment, and the lead transportation committee in the House kicked off what will be a two-year effort to reauthorize the federal highway program.
Aviation News Today: Rendell Urges Lawmakers To Raise PFC Cap
During a hearing Wednesday on the federal role in America's infrastructure, former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell urged lawmakers to raise the cap on Passenger Facility Charges (PFCs).
The Maritime Executive: Hearing Highlights Federal Role in Infrastructure and Economic Importance of Transportation System
Washington, DC – The Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure held its first hearing of the 113th Congress today focusing on the importance of infrastructure to the U.S. economy and examining the role played by the Federal Government in ensuring safe, efficient, and reliable infrastructure.
Fleet Owner: SOTU Speech: Obama talks up highway spending; natural-gas vehicles
In a State of the Union address that laid out a wide array of domestic initiatives and foreign-policy strategies for the start of his second term, President Obama— to the delight of many in the transportation sector— specifically mentioned what he hoped to do with Congress in a bipartisan fashion to repair the nation’s crumbling highway infrastructure and to promote the use of alternative fuels for both cars and trucks.
Allentown Morning Call: Obama plan targets bad bridges
WASHINGTON — President Obama is urging a "fix-it-first" way to tackling America's backlog of 70,000 "structurally deficient" bridges.
Public Opinion Online: Chairman Shuster presides over first Transportation Committee meeting
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Hollidaysburg, on Wednesday presided over his first full committee hearing.
Politico: Morning Transportation
By Adam Snider and Burgess Everett Featuring Kathryn A. Wolfe and Scott Wong
T&I CAMARADERIE: The House T&I Committee has once again showed its bipartisan chops. Nearly everyone in the room for a hearing on the federal role in transportation — including all three witnesses, Chairman Bill Shuster and ranking member Nick Rahall — agreed that Uncle Sam should have a major role in transportation spending. The most succinct example of the camaraderie came when Rahall asked the three witnesses if they support a strong federal role. Each one had the exact same one-word reply: “Absolutely.” On first glance, one wouldn’t think the three men would agree on much: Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue leads the nation’s most prominent business lobby, which has often clashed with LIUNA and its general president, Terry O’Sullivan. And BAF Co-chair and former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell — a Democrat who was invited by the Republican majority — typically supports states’ rights. Adam has the Pro story: http://politico.pro/Vbk3fK
Helicopter Association International: Transportation Committee Shows Bipartisan Agreement on Fed Role
In a U.S. House of Representatives Transportation Committee hearing examining the role of the federal government in the U.S. transportation sector, there seemed to be unanimous agreement that federal support is crucial, including Committee Chairman Bill Schuster (R-Pa.) and ranking member Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.).
Transport Topics: House Committee Hears Concerns on Transportation, Infrastructure Funding
The House Transportation Committee’s first hearing of the new Congress focused on the challenges of maintaining the nation’s roads and bridges, and Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) pledged to maintain the federal government’s role in transportation infrastructure funding.
Politico Pro: Shuster tepid on interstate tolls
By Kathryn A. Wolfe
The top transportation lawmaker in the House on Wednesday said all options remain on the table in the hunt for transportation cash — but advocates for setting up tolls on existing interstates may be disappointed.
Advocates have been pushing for Congress to scrap the statutory prohibition on tolling interstates for years, arguing that adding tolls to existing interstates would help states pay the increasingly high costs of maintaining the roads.
Despite Rep. Bill Shuster’s ”I don’t rule anything in, I don’t rule anything out” mantra, which he reiterated at a Chamber of Commerce summit Wednesday, he was tepid on the widespread tolling of existing interstates.
Shuster (R-Pa.), chairman of the House Transportation Committee, said “every governor and every state DOT director in the country” has asked him to lift the prohibition.
But he said selling that to the American people won’t be so easy. “When the American people start realizing that they’re going to have toll roads — some of these roads they call ‘freeways’ — I think it’s very, very difficult.”
Shuster used as an example a fictitious 56-year-old man living in Pennsylvania. “For the last 40 years he’s gotten on I-81 without paying a toll, and now he’s going to pay a toll? I think that’s very, very difficult to do.”
Still, he offered a glimmer of hope to tolling boosters, saying there may be some specific stretches where it could be allowed, such as the congested I-95 corridor in Pennsylvania. “Corridors like that … it’s something that there may be a possibility to do, but to toll the whole system, I don’t see how we do it,” Shuster said.
Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell — who tried several times to win federal approval of tolls on the state’s I-81 corridor — is a supporter of tolls.
“You should lift the ban on states tolling” existing interstate lanes, Rendell told the House Transportation Committee on Wednesday, saying it’s one of the ways to raise the needed money.
Rendell used the example of Rhode Island, which does not toll on the popular I-95 route, as a “small state” that has “enormous repair needs” and desperately needs additional funding. The state could raise $39 million a year through tolling, Rendell said.
Limited interstate tolling is available through a pilot program reserved for stretches of interstate in three states — I-95 in Virginia, I-70 in Missouri, and I-95 in North Carolina.
And MAP-21 expanded some opportunities for Interstate tolling, including allowing federal dollars to be used for initial construction of a toll highway or bridge, or for constructing additional lanes on an existing interstate highway and tolling some of them, as long as the highway maintains the original number of free lanes, among other options.
E&E News: Fiscal worries dominate Shuster's debut at T&I panel
By Eugene Mulero and Annie Snider, E&E reporters
February 14, 2013
If House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) had a plan to fix the nation's crumbling bridges, cracking roads and deteriorating rail lines, he would move it forward.
But he doesn't have one yet.
"We don't have an answer. We're going to develop that over the coming years," Shuster said during his first hearing as chairman of the influential panel.
Shuster was responding to testimony by former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D), who pressed lawmakers yesterday about lacking "a national plan since President Eisenhower built the interstate highway system" to address the country's infrastructure needs.
Shuster spent much of the hearing refereeing speaking time for fiscally conservative Republicans on the panel. Tea party concerns were on full display, despite Rendell's insistence -- and President Obama's on Tuesday night -- that repairing infrastructure in their congressional districts could lead to job creation.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce Thomas Donohue also urged lawmakers to hurry and fix the country's aging infrastructure, saying, "Just do it."
Donohue said the U.S. Chamber supports "reasonable increases in gas taxes that are phased in and indexed to inflation."
Shuster's party, however, wanted to know if environmental regulations would stand in the way of construction initiatives and if big-ticket items could lead to revenue increases.
"Are we just asking the American people to pony up more?" asked Texas Republican Rep. Blake Farenthold.
Without a new budget proposal from the White House or legislative direction from party leaders, variations of Farenthold's question went unanswered.
During the hearing, Shuster said looming automatic cuts to federal agencies would be damaging to transportation improvement efforts, as well as other fiscal challenges. "But the consequences of inaction are dire," the chairman said.
Shuster also indicated the committee would take on a new Water Resources Development Act, which both chambers plan to advance this year.
Speaking at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce before the hearing, Shuster said he has chatted about the measure with his Senate counterpart, Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).
Boxer launched a major push for a WRDA bill last year and her panel has held two hearings so far this session; its members are drafting a bipartisan bill. After WRDA, the House panel would proceed to craft long-term transportation measures, Shuster said.
Yet Shuster's comments on transportation's role in America and his call to back long-term authorizing measures were eclipsed by an apology.
In an unusual move, Shuster kicked off his chairmanship by apologizing to Obama for insinuating that the president had been insincere when he suggested CEOs of companies have a penchant for high-speed rail (E&ENews PM, Feb. 13).
Shuster said his "incendiary rhetoric" did not help foster bipartisanship.
- Press Release Former Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell Calls for Port, Waterway Strategy in Speech to American Association of Port Authorities Read More
- Press Release BAF Educational Fund Releases Infrastructure Report: Falling Apart and Falling Behind Read More
- Published Report An Economic Analysis of Infrastructure Investment Read More
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