WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Chamber President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue opened the U.S. Chamber’s annual infrastructure summit today by outlining the clear need for infrastructure modernization and calling on Congress to seek a bipartisan way forward on the issue.
“The average American loses 42 hours stuck in traffic congestion each year. Think of what you could do with an extra 42 hours,” Donohue said at the summit. “The costs are economic as well as personal. Failing infrastructure impacts the bottom line of American businesses of every size, region, and industry.”
Donohue called on both parties to come together on infrastructure ahead of tonight’s State of the Union address. “We’re looking for a strong statement on the importance of getting an infrastructure deal done this year, followed by the necessary resources to get the job started in the forthcoming White House budget. Likewise, the House and Senate should signal their commitment by also prioritizing infrastructure investment in their budget blueprints, and moving good legislation forward,” he said.
Leaders from small and mid-size businesses shared their own perspectives on the need for infrastructure reform and the importance of infrastructure investment to their companies, including keeping American businesses competitive on the global stage.
Donohue also addressed what the Chamber is looking for in infrastructure reform. He reiterated that the business community is open to new ideas and pointed to the Chamber’s four-point plan, unveiled at last year’s summit, as a way to help guide the process. The plan calls for utilizing public-private partnerships, streamlining permitting, ensuring we have the necessary workforce to rebuild our infrastructure, and raising the federal vehicle fuel user fee.
“The Chamber has long believed that a modest increase to the federal vehicle fuel user fee is an obvious starting point,” Donohue said. “The citizens of 39 states—both red and blue—have voted to raise their own state motor fuel user fees, some of them multiple times.”
Discussions throughout the day also centered on funding mechanisms for modernization, including the user-pays system, vehicle miles traveled, and the role of public-private partnerships.
Attendees heard a congressional update from U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR), ahead of the first infrastructure hearing in the 116th Congress this week, and learned more about the GAIIN Act from Congressman Ted Budd (R-NC). Local government officials, including the mayor of Gary, Indiana, and the mayor of San Antonio, Texas, spoke about the importance of infrastructure reform from the view of cities.
U.S. Chamber Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley closed out the day with an update on the infrastructure competition and announced that there are more than 80 entries for the contest. Winners will be announced at the end of April.
From shipping to staffing, the Chamber and its partners have the tools to save your business money and the solutions to help you run it more efficiently. Join the U.S. Chamber of Commerce today to start saving.