This past Thursday, Pete Buttigieg, Transportation Secretary, in his first public event since his confirmation, testified in front of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
A report from The Associated Press states that Buttigieg is “warning that the country’s infrastructure needs exceed $1 trillion” as the Transportation Secretary looks to move forward his appeals to Congress for infrastructure needs. The Biden administration is looking to prepare a $3-4 trillion spending package that incorporates infrastructure and funding, along with a few other priorities.
In his statements to the committee this past Thursday, Secretary Buttigieg said that there is a chance at this moment in time to provide the funding to fix and maintain our infrastructure. In another statement, Buttigieg wrote: “I believe we have – at this moment – the best chance in any of our lifetimes to make a generational investment in infrastructure that will help us meet our country’s most pressing challenges today and create a stronger future for decades to come.”
Buttigieg also commented on the current pandemic “that has taken the lives of more than 535,000 Americans. He continued by saying that “relief is on the way” in the form of the American Rescue Plan recently passed by Congress. The secretary also emphasized the idea that “there is near-universal recognition that a broader recovery will require a national commitment to fix and transform America’s infrastructure.”
Buttigieg stated that now is the time to create more good jobs through infrastructure work, as well as the time to repair structures and facilities such as “highways, roads, bridges” and much more. Buttigieg also passionately stated that infrastructure “has such strong bipartisan support” and for “good reasons,” continuing on to say that everyone has a need “for reliable roads, railways, and air transportation.”
“Across the country, we face a trillion-dollar backlog of needed repairs and improvements, with hundreds of billions of dollars in good projects already in the pipeline.”
Buttigieg also made comments emphasizing the stark difference between the United States’ infrastructure spending compared to many other countries by say. “We see other countries pulling ahead of us, with consequences for strategic and economic competition. By some measures, China spends more on infrastructure every year than the U.S. and Europe combined. The infrastructure status quo is a threat to our collective future.”
He continued his statement by calling this moment in time “the best chance in any of our lifetimes to make a generational investment in infrastructure” that will help the United States now and also “create a stronger future for decades to come.”
The Associated Press reports that his requests come at a time when Congress has just passed President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan and most Republicans are hesitant to budget more.