It targets critical infrastructure needs to make sure our limited resources are spent wisely and efficiently where they’re really needed. At this moment, only 75 cents of every dollar in the Highway Trust Fund actually goes to basic infrastructure projects that are essential to our economy, such as the nation’s 160,000 miles of highways. The other 25 cents are lost on administrative overhead and government mandates that require states to spend your limited tax dollars on “extras” like bike paths and beautification.
This legislation also gives state and local governments increased involvement in determining how transportation dollars are spent. People in my state of New Hampshire, for instance, have a far better understanding of what is needed in the Granite State than bureaucrats in Washington do.
One of this bill’s most impressive features is something it doesn’t have: there’s not a single earmark in it. By comparison, the last surface transportation law passed by Congress in 2005 contained more than 6,300 earmarks. Up until now, when local or state officials had important problems that needed attention, they had to go to Washington with hat in hand and beg for funding. By eliminating earmarks, we’ve made major strides forward in funding projects based on necessity rather than political clout on Capitol Hill.
On top of all that, the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act would also put an estimated one million people to work by removing barriers to domestic energy production. It would do so by removing the existing drilling ban on new offshore areas, laying out clear cut rules for oil shale resources and technology, and by opening a small portion--less than three percent--of land in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. (Congress originally set aside this specific land within ANWAR, by the way, for oil and natural gas development.)
In a time when both political parties seem to find little they can agree on, both sides of the aisle can share common ground on this bill. Meeting essential public needs, making government operate more efficiently and clearing the way for the creation of new jobs aren’t Democratic or Republican issues: they’re American values.
The American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act is good for our transportation needs, good for our economy, and good for America.
Rep. Frank Guinta (R-N.H.) is a member of the Budget, Oversight and Government Reform, and Transportation and Infrastructure Committees.