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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

House transportation committee highlights federal role in transportation


The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure held its first hearing last week of the 113th Congress to underscore the importance of transportation infrastructure to the U.S. economy.

Going forward, the committee will focus on strengthening the national transportation network to make the country "more efficient, more competitive and more prosperous," said Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), who chairs the committee, in a statement issued after the Feb. 13 hearing.

Three witnesses testified about the need for a continued federal role in transportation: former Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell, who now co-chairs Building America's Future; U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and Chief Executive Officer Thomas Donohue; and Laborers' International Union of North America General President Terry O'Sullivan.

"Without an overriding national vision and network, America's transportation infrastructure would resemble a patchwork of disconnected roads and rails, our aviation system would be untenable, goods movement would be greatly hindered, and the electric grid would be a disconnected system in each of the 50 states," Rendell testified.

Donohue emphasized the ties between transportation and global competitiveness.

"Quality transportation unleashes competitive advantage by leading to lower production costs and making U.S. businesses more efficient, making the Untied State a desirable location for new and existing businesses, and also making U.S.-produced goods and service more competitive in the global economy," he said.

O'Sullivan pointed out that infrastructure is not a partisan issue.

"Taking care of America's infrastructure is a core function and responsibility of the federal government," he said.