House panel sets infrastructure hearing

House panel sets infrastructure hearing
© Greg Nash

House lawmakers next week will begin exploring ways to revitalize the nation’s crumbling infrastructure with the promise of a massive legislative package on the horizon.

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold its first hearing in the new Congress on Wednesday in an effort to hear input from business leaders and organized labor about what it will take to upgrade U.S. roads, bridges and other public works.

The hearing will examine “the challenges facing our nation’s infrastructure and a vision for building a 21st century infrastructure for America,” according to a press release. 

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Among the witnesses slated to attend are the president and CEO of the FedEx Corporation; the head of the AFL-CIO; the board chairman of the Vermeer Corporation; the president and CEO of BMW of North America; and the CEO of Cargill Inc.

“America’s infrastructure is the backbone of our economy, and the federal government plays a vital, historical, constitutional role in ensuring the American people are connected and our economy is supported through infrastructure,” the press release said.

President Trump has vowed to inject major investments into the country’s ailing transportation system, though he has not sketched out his proposal in any detail yet. 

Republicans have been generally less enthusiastic about the idea of massive infrastructure spending, with repealing ObamaCare and tax reform taking priority in a 200-day agenda outlined at the annual GOP retreat in Philadelphia this week.

But Trump, who personally asked Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanJuan Williams: Trump ought to thank Obama Democrats see ObamaCare leverage in spending fights Ryan: 'White supremacy is a scourge' MORE (R-Wis.) to add an infrastructure bill to their agenda, will have some willing partners on the transportation panel.

Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, reiterated his support for a rebuilding plan on Tuesday.

“We have an opportunity going through this tax reform that’s a high priority not only for the president but for the Congress, if we can find the dollars to put it forward, to do a significant infrastructure bill to rebuild roads, bridges and you name the infrastructure in this country,” Shuster told Fox Business. “It’s in need of investment.”