Government

Ryan Calls for Highway Bill Before Trade Pact

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan again called on President Obama to press for passage of a multiyear transportation bill before focusing on trade, joining three fellow Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives to send a letter to the president.
Signing the letter with Ryan were U.S. Reps. Peter DeFazio, D-4 Ore., ranking member of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee; Rosa DeLauro, D-3 Conn., ranking member of the Labor, Health, Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee; and Louise Slaughter, D-25 N.Y., ranking member of the House Committee on Rules.
“There are 70,000 bridges in the United States that are considered to be structurally deficient,” Ryan said. “This is an opportunity to put hundreds of thousands of Americans back to work to improve our country’s infrastructure. There is no doubt it will cost more if we wait. This should be President Obama’s priority—and needs to be completed instead of a controversial and damaging trade agreement.”

Ryan, joined by representatives of the Alliance for American Manufacturing for a news conference last month at the Youngstown Business Incubator, said Obama should call on congressional supporters of a Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement to give him a transportation bill first.
The letter follows:

March 11, 2015

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20502

Dear President Obama:

We believe it is imperative for you to focus your efforts on passing a long overdue surface transportation bill before turning your attention to a controversial trade agenda that divides Congress. America requires a robust transportation infrastructure to compete in the global economy. Around the country our crumbling roads, bridges, railroads and sewer systems urgently need improvements and repairs. India and China spend seven to nine percent of their GDP on infrastructure. We spend approximately two percent. If we want to remain the world’s leader in innovation, we need a safe and efficient surface transportation network in the United States.

As you said in your State of the Union address, “Twenty-first century businesses need twenty-first century infrastructure – modern ports, and stronger bridges, faster trains and the fastest Internet…Let’s pass a bipartisan infrastructure plan that could create more than 30 times as many jobs per year, and make this country stronger for decades to come.” We agree, Mr. President.

You are in a unique position to move transportation legislation forward and give this country’s infrastructure the investment it needs to safely transport people and goods. A long-term, fully funded transportation bill is a priority of both the Chamber of Commerce and several labor unions. We believe you need to capitalize on the support of both sides and announce that you will not pursue TPP until you have a multi-year surface transportation bill on your desk. After the potential passage and signing of any trade legislation, we believe the White House loses leverage to get a highway bill finished.

We are pleased that your budget includes a request and funding outline for a six-year transportation reauthorization proposal. The $478 billion is the step in the right direction, and now your leadership is needed to promote this legislation and bring the full force of the White House behind it. Thank you in advance for the time and attention you will give this matter. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our offices.

Sincerely,

Tim Ryan
Member of Congress

Peter DeFazio
Member of Congress

Rose DeLauro
Member of Congress

Louise Slaughter
Member of Congress

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.