Jun 18, 2020
Nancy Pelosi & Democratic Committee Discuss $1.5 Trillion Infrastructure Bill
Nancy Pelosi & Democratic committee members spoke about the “Moving Forward Act” which is a $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill. Read the full transcript with details here.
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Nancy Pelosi: (00:00)
We would lower the costs of health care by lowering the cost of prescription drugs, and preserving the preexisting condition. Lower house [inaudible 00:00:09]. Bigger paychecks by building the infrastructure of America in a green and resilient way. And third, we would have cleaner government. Cleaner government by improving and enhancing the voice of small donors in the grassroots in our political process. Between now and 4th of July, we will bring the ACA Enhancement legislation to the floor, on June 29th. Next week, we will bring the Justice in Policing Act, part of our democratization initiatives to the floor. And then, before we leave for the 4th of July, we will bring this important legislation we have, the Moving Forward Act.
Nancy Pelosi: (01:03)
I want to salute mightily the chairman of the Infrastructure and Transportation Committee, Mr. DeFazio, for being our maestro in all of this. For decades, he has served on that committee. He knows the territory. He knows the roads and [inaudible 00:01:21]. And so, for us to say our hopes our riding on you is an easy thing to say. In that orchestration, are many other aspects of building the infrastructure, and that’s why I’m so honored that Chairman Richie Neal, the chair of the Ways and Means Committee, is with us in person. It’s a very important part of the legislation to make real the promise of building infrastructure in green and resilient way.
Nancy Pelosi: (01:54)
Joining us virtually is the chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and the chair of the Education Committee, and the chair, Bobby Scott and Frank Pallone and Maxine Waters, and I’ll get to them in a moment. But first, let me just say that when we talk about building roads and highways and bridges and transit and rail and airports and ports and harbors, that is so important for us because it’s job-creating in its essence, but it’s also commerce-promoting. So, it grows the economy of our country. Then again, in this legislation, we’re insuring that all … And I thank you Mr. DeFazio for that … I thank Mr. Pallone for insuring that all communities have clean drinking water, invest in new wastewater infrastructure, as well as expanding affordable high speed internet, which is in this bill, which is part of Mr. Pallone’s committee.
Nancy Pelosi: (02:57)
Then when we talk about building and reopening our schools, I thank Mr. Scott of Virginia, the chairman of the Education and Labor Committee. We tell children that studying is important. It’s important in their personal lives. It’s important to keep America preeminent in the world. And yet, we send them to schools which give them a different message if they’re not up to par to respect the learning of children. Thank you, Mr. Scott. Affordable housing, the challenges, the conscious of our country right now, homelessness and access to affordable housing, we thank Maxine Waters for her leadership as chair of the Financial Services Committee for serving under so many in our community with the housing legislation that is contained here. And again, we have something for the Postal Service, the infrastructure piece of the Postal Service, the connective tissue of our country, our Postal Service. Over 90% of the medicines received from our veterans are through the Postal Service. The list goes on and I think Carolyn Maloney for her strong role in all of this.
Nancy Pelosi: (04:18)
So, for these and other reasons, this is just a happy day for us to be able to put forth something so comprehensive, so well thought out, so job-creating, so economically and growing of the economy, preserving of our planet, respectful of our children, heeding the needs for housing in our country, and again, preserving probably one of the most popular entities of federal government, Postal Service. So, for these and other reasons, I thank our chairmen for their extraordinary leadership.
Nancy Pelosi: (04:55)
Now, I want to yield the floor with great respect because he’s now in, what? How many hours?
Peter DeFazio: (05:01)
Nancy Pelosi: (05:01)
16th hour of markup of this important legislation. So many amendments and again, so much experience, so much idealism, so much knowledge about how to get the job done. Our distinguished chair of the committee, Mr. DeFazio.
Peter DeFazio: (05:26)
Thank you, Madam Speaker. I’m pleased to be here today, take a little bit of break from the amendment process. We are going through a full legislative process. There is a lot of pent up enthusiasm and demand for rebuilding America’s infrastructure. We’ve been living off the legacy of the Eisenhower era, and the policies slightly modified of the Eisenhower era, for more than half a century. Much of that infrastructure is reached the end of its useful life. $106 billion to bring up transit to a state of good repair. 40% national highway system deteriorated to the point where you have to totally rebuild it, not just put another coat of asphalt on it. 47,000 bridges on national highway system that need substantial repair or replacement.
Peter DeFazio: (06:13)
But the bill goes far beyond that. We do emphasize state of good repair, but we’re also making the largest ever investments in transit to provide Americans with new transit options for the future to help deal with congestion and to help reduce fossil fuel use. The bill is extraordinarily ambitious. The Republicans have been a bit critical at points during the markup and saying, “This is Green New Deal 2.0.” This is the application of the principles of the Green New Deal, and this proves that we can both deal with climate change, fossil fuel pollution, and actually create millions of new high paying American jobs. That is the promise of this legislation.
Peter DeFazio: (07:03)
We are looking at rebuilding the system in a way that is resilient to climate change, meaning the other side of the aisle doesn’t agree with that but to deal with severe weather events, which they do agree with, and sea level rise, which happens to be they also agree with. So, the new system will be rebuilt in a way that is resilient to those things. We’re also encouraging and incentivizing states to use new materials. There’s tremendous work going on in both the paving industry and the concrete industry on moving to less carbon intents and even potentially carbon neutral or negative materials for rebuilding the system. These materials will last longer than the current materials. We’re not going to saddle the next generation with the need to rebuild bridges or to redo the highways and/or to totally redo our transit systems. We’re going to build for 100 year standard in this bill.
Peter DeFazio: (08:06)
We’re also going to follow … We, in the FAST ACT, which was a bipartisan bill, we designated, every state designated critical routes for the future of electrification or alternate fuels across the country. This bill is going to make very significant investments in actually delivering on the promise of those designated routes, which have received no federal assistance. So, there will be tremendous investment in electrification and other carbon neutral fuels potentially along those routes. This is supplemented by work from Mr. Pallone’s committee, and he’ll address that in building out the grid and being able to provide in appropriate places sustainable power for these charging areas.
Peter DeFazio: (08:58)
Beyond service transportation and transit, the bill also would invest in America’s harbors. The most efficient way, the least carbon polluting way, even with current fossil fuel powered vehicles to move freight in the United States or anywhere in the world is by water. Many of our harbors are limited on a daily basis. Our largest harbors, 58% of them are at well less than half of their capacity in terms of dredge steps, jetty’s that are falling apart, yet there’s $9.3 billion sitting in the treasury that has been collected from the American taxpayers under a law passed in the Reagan era to invest in those harbors.
Peter DeFazio: (09:48)
In the CARES ACT, we did get in legislation to pin the current income. We need to also invest the past taxes that have been collected in our harbors. There is also investment, the inland waterways, critical to the movement of farm goods and export and other goods out of the United States of America. Many of the locks and levees that we’re dealing with on that system were built by fabulous engineers and designed by fabulous engineers 100 to 120 years ago. They do have a lifespan. So, we’re going to do harbors, we’re going to do waterways. We’re also, for the first time since 1987, we are going to invest and partner with communities on wastewater.
Peter DeFazio: (10:34)
I was a county commissioner back in the old days. We built a metropolitan wastewater management commission that’s still serving our region well, even though we’ve more than doubled in that time, two cities and also unincorporated areas. We got an 85% federal match. Now, the match for most communities is zero. Many of these are distressed communities and we are going to reinstate that program with robust funding for the first time we are reauthorizing it since 1987-
Peter DeFazio: (11:01)
First time we’re reauthorizing it since 1987 with some grant programs for distress communities, zero interest loans for others, and low interest loans for those that can more afford it. And we’re going to add a provision there, which makes a heck of a lot of sense. And every part of the bill addresses this. And again, those who don’t believe in climate change, tough luck, we’re going to deal with it. All we’re going to say is if you take the federal money, you have to capture your methane, which is an incredibly volatile and dangerous greenhouse gas. I was inspired to this by testimony from a New Jersey sewer district more than a year ago in my committee, who said, “You know, we had to rebuild the system. We rebuilt it to capture the methane.” Electricity’s really expensive in New Jersey. We generate all the electricity we need and we sell electricity onto the grid, which minimize their need to raise rates for rate payers. That’s pretty darn common sense. Why not do that? Why not capture?
Peter DeFazio: (12:07)
That’s the one proviso. If you take these new federal funds and partner, you’ll hear more about other aspects of the bill from Mr. Pallone. And also, I want to say that this bill has a strong emphasis on areas, minority areas, disadvantaged areas, habitually poor areas in rural America. There are many new programs that will target those areas, will also target transit to serve people so they can get to job centers if they’re low or lower income, experiment with zero fair programs and other things. This is the most transformative and consequential transportation infrastructure bill, bigger than my committee, in the history of the United States of America and everything we have done so far. The three, four bills that we passed on COVID, they have all been mitigation for economic harm.
Peter DeFazio: (13:08)
We were somewhat successful in The Cares Act. The Heroes Act, which has not yet seen action by the Senate is incredibly important. But, those are all mitigation programs to stem the harm, the individual harm, the community harm, the business harm. What we need now is to begin to look forward to a brighter future that is the recovery package. We’re going to need a lot of jobs when we come out of this. A lot of jobs aren’t coming back. We’re going to be in something that looks a lot more like the great depression than the great recession. We’re going to need these jobs. Not just construction jobs, they’re jobs in design, they’re jobs in engineering, they’re jobs in manufacturing, they’re jobs in high-technology, they’re jobs for mall business, they’re jobs for disadvantaged minority business enterprises.
Peter DeFazio: (14:04)
The impact of investing in infrastructure has the greatest multiplier effect of any federal dollars ever spent and with the strongest buy America requirements of any part of the federal government, and even stronger in this bill, way stronger than the Pentagon, they should shape up. We are going to produce all of those jobs here in the United States of America and put millions to work in good paying, high paying, benefit paying jobs.
Nancy Pelosi: (14:35)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Well, we’re so excited about this legislation. And as the distinguished Chairman said, we started with the Coronavirus, with meeting emergency needs, and then moved on to mitigation. We still have to do some of those things. And now move on to recovery. The person who’s been there every step of the way with meeting emergency needs, the mitigation, mitigation, mitigation, and now on route to recovery has a distinguished chair of the Ways and Means Committee, Mr. Neal.
Mr. Neal: (15:07)
Thanks speaker. Thanks for your perseverance on this issue. I was delighted that Chairman DeFazio, who, as you know, is one of the most knowledgeable people I’ve ever met on these issues, but also fulfilling career long ambition. It’s so important here. His explanation was superb. For those of us who are institutionalist and have that memory when chairmen came up and they talk about these issues with great detail. But, also a reminder here today that Peter mentioned the Eisenhower Federal Highway Act, a Republican President, Lyndon Johnson was the majority leader and Rayburn, Sam Rayburn was the Speaker. Infrastructure used to be the easiest thing to do in Congress. And we used to annually do something about infrastructure. So, decades have now gone by where there’s has not been a major investment. Every conversation I’ve had with Secretary Mnuchin, which is generally weekly, ends with a conversation about infrastructure. He’s queried me time and again about how it works, how the patterns work, how the funding proceeds, but he has said, “We’re in.”
Mr. Neal: (16:11)
I want to point out that this is about efficiencies, and connectivity, and productivity. We also think as the Speaker described it, we’re in the stage still, I think, of relief and stability and we move to recovery. What better way as Chairman DeFazio has described it to move to recovery with the efficiency that he has also embraced based on infrastructure. We’ve witnessed these investments go by the wayside. Everybody in America knows what’s happened to infrastructure. No matter where you go, the delays are unbelievable. No matter where you try to travel, there are gates out here in Washington some of you have traveled through. It’s unbelievable. It’s like somebody blows a whistle and everybody starts running toward the designated area. The Moving Forward Act is an immediate solution. The Ways a Means Committee… I want to thank the staff. For more than a year they have worked on this.
Mr. Neal: (17:04)
The Ways and Means contributed many provisions. I want to thank Peter in particular for including my language on rail transportation, connecting Boston to Wister, to Springfield, to Pittsfield. We use the model of what happened on North South rail with 208 stimulus money, New Haven up to Hartford, to Springfield on North South, this would be east, west, 12 more trains today from Hartford to Springfield, 16 more trains a day from New Haven to Hartford. That’s what you can do with this sort of investment. On the tax front again, on the renewables, it’s extraordinary what we’ve done. And we’ve provided details as to how we would best do it. He’s also included a hundred billion dollars. I know Frank has been interested in that. Jim Clyburn has been interested in that, but for Central and Western Massachusetts at my request, Peter included that language as well.
Mr. Neal: (17:56)
This is the most robust infrastructure package to deal with again, the renewable issue that has ever been made in Congress. This is the largest tax investment in combating climate change, again, that Congress has ever made on the renewable front. I’ve always been a believer in incenting certain behaviors, and what better way than to do that than through attacking climate change, embracing the renewables, and putting millions and millions of Americans to work. I’ve also been in conversation with my governor who shares my point of view on this. We’ve talked extensively about it last Sunday, I told him it was coming and to be ready to say some good things. He said he was going to do it because he’s a believer. To the Speaker and to Peter DeFazio, really, a word of acknowledgement and recognition. I’ve sat through these meetings with Peter. The two of us have winked and nodded and given each other a high fives. We’re here. So, thanks Speaker and thank you Chairman DeFazio.
Nancy Pelosi: (18:58)
Thank you, and as the two distinguished chairmen know that, with the interest rates where they are now, there’s never been a better time for us to go big, to think big as the head of the fed has said to us, think big. With us, a person who’s been with us through the emergency and the mitigation, and now the recovery, Mr. Pallone, the distinguished Chair of the Energy And Commerce Committee. He’s got health pieces in here. He has issues that relate to infrastructure for broadband for so many reasons I yield to the distinguished chair with gratitude. Thank you.
Mr. Pallone: (19:35)
Well, thank you, Madam Speaker. And let me thank you for your leadership as we work to finalize the Moving Forward Act. I know that you’ve always stressed that we need to do infrastructure and how it would jumpstart our economy, and stimulate the economy, particularly now more than ever in the aftermath of COVID and the many jobs that we’ve lost as a result of the pandemic. I also want to thank my two chairs as colleagues, obviously, Richie Neal, been working on infrastructure for so long. And Peter, thank you not only for all you do with this bill, but also for mentioning New Jersey as the innovation state. I always appreciate that, Peter. Thank you.
Mr. Pallone: (20:20)
I’m going to talk about the provisions that come from the Energy and Commerce Committee. First, I want to talk about investing in clean energy. The bill basically helps us rebuild our economy with a $70 billion investment in clean energy. Our subcommittee on energy had a hearing earlier this week. We heard from former Secretary Moniz about the fact that COVID is wiped out more than the 600,000 clean energy jobs. The bottom line is that we were moving forward with trying to encourage renewables and clean energy jobs, but many of them had been wiped out by the pandemic. So, that’s the reason why we have to move in this area of clean energy jobs.
Mr. Pallone: (21:11)
As Peter mentioned, this is about climate change and taking action against climate change. This investment a will basically upgrade the electric grid to accommodate more renewable energy, to make the grid more resilient, facilitate the deployment of sustainable infrastructure projects around the country, and invest in energy efficiency. So, I really want to stress that this is a green bill, a clean energy green bill. We also have the development of a national electric vehicle charging network that stimulates job growth in the ED industry and addresses the need for lower greenhouse gas pollution coming from cars and trucks. The COVID pandemic has also put a spotlight on just how critical it is.
Mr. Pallone: (22:03)
…Pandemic has also put a spotlight on just how critical it is to have access to clean, safe water. The bill invests over $25 billion in drinking water programs around the country and, as has already been mentioned, a major investment in broadband. I don’t think I have to tell anybody, obviously I’m here talking to you virtually, that the COVID pandemic has demonstrated the need to ensure that families across the country have access to high speed internet. So the Moving Forward Act provides over $100 billion to fund broadband related programs, which will get us to 100% coverage.
Mr. Pallone: (22:41)
There was an FCC report that came out, I believe, two years ago, that said that if you spent somewhere near this, actually a little less, that you would be able to have broadband connections for all the underserved areas around the country, but I also want to stress that we have specific dollars, not only this $100 billion, which are used to connect the underserved areas of the country, but there are specific programs so that kids and individuals who need access to the internet for their educational needs will be able to connect, that they can connect individually in their house.
Mr. Pallone: (23:23)
We also have $12 billion to upgrade, or part of that $100 billion to upgrade our very frail 911 infrastructure for the new generation, because if people need to get in touch in an emergency, oftentimes that system is not up to snuff.
Mr. Pallone: (23:41)
Lastly, I wanted to mention healthcare. Obviously we’ve seen that our healthcare infrastructure, in the aftermath of COVID, or while the pandemic continues, is in need of major infrastructure overhaul as well. Many hospitals closed, many need to upgrade their infrastructure or build new wings, so we have $30 billion for healthcare infrastructure, including money for hospitals, specifically $10 billion for community health centers, something that Jim Clyburn has always been particularly concerned about, as well as our labs and our Indian Health Service, the clinics. If anyone goes to some of the Indian health clinics around the country or have been to any of them, a lot of them are sorely in need of infrastructure upgrades.
Mr. Pallone: (24:35)
The Moving Forward Act just moves our nation forward, as the name says, and I’m so proud to be a part of it with my fellow chairs and most importantly our Speaker, who has been such a major factor in moving forward on this for a long time now. Thank you again, Nancy.
Nancy Pelosi: (24:57)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I thank you for all that is there. You know, they say on the Energy and Commerce Committee, if the sun shines on it, it falls under the jurisdiction of the Energy and Commerce Committee, so that was a broad swathe of issues that Chairman Pallone addressed. I do want to mention, I mentioned Carolyn Maloney, with the postal service piece that is in here, I also wanted to mention Chairman Grijalva of the Natural Resources Committee. A substantial park piece of that is in the legislation as well. Now, a very major part of the legislation is what we do for education, for our children. I’m so pleased that, virtually, we will be joined by the distinguished Chair of the Education and Labor Committee, a person who fights every day for America’s children, Mr. Scott.
Bobby Scott: (25:51)
Thank you. Thank you, Speaker Pelosi, and thank you for your hard work and dedication on all of the issues, especially infrastructure, and I want to thank our other Chairs for their leadership. I know I speak for students, parents, and educators across the country when I say how important it is for our nation’s schools to be included in this infrastructure package. Even before the pandemic, our chronic neglect for America’s public schools forced students and teachers across the country to learn and work in outdated and hazardous school buildings. In 2017, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave our nation’s school infrastructure a grade of D+. Now, as we confront the COVID-19 pandemic, our failure to make necessary investments in school infrastructure could prevent schools from reopening safely. In its guidance to school districts, the CDC advises that ensuring ventilation systems operate properly is a key consideration for schools seeking to reopen. But earlier this month, the Government Accountability Office released a report finding that four in 10 school districts, four in 10 school districts need to update or replace heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems in at least half of their school buildings.
Bobby Scott: (27:09)
The Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act, which is in included in this infrastructure package, would make necessary investments to help school districts open safely. H.R. 2 invests $100 billion in the next five years, targeted at high-poverty schools with facilities that pose health and safety risks to students and staff. In response to the pandemic, funding in the first year will be expedited to states, so they can prioritize schools that are least prepared to meet public health and reopening guidelines.
Bobby Scott: (27:42)
This legislation is particularly important given the unprecedented budget shortfalls facing state governments. While wealthier school districts are more likely to fund projects through local property taxes, the high-poverty schools are left to rely state funding that was already in short supply before the pandemic. Everybody wants to open schools as soon as possible, but the health disparities we have witnessed during the pandemic will continue to worsen if low-income students are forced to return to schools that cannot afford to comply with public health guidance. Passing this legislation will not only help students get back to school, it will help workers get back to work by creating 1.9 million new jobs over the next five years. This infrastructure package, the Moving Forward Act, is a critical step towards helping our students and our economy recover from the pandemic.
Bobby Scott: (28:39)
So, once again, I want to thank you, Speaker Pelosi, and all of our colleagues for the work you have done on this legislation. Madam Speaker, I now yield back as students will be much better off, and the next generation better educated because of this legislation.
Nancy Pelosi: (28:58)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, for your great leadership. And now we’ll hear from Madam Chair, Maxine Waters, chair of the Financial Services Committee. Throughout this COVID-19 coronavirus crisis, she has been there. Whether it’s helping with small businesses, small banks, and now with housing, with renters, etc., throughout the whole crisis, but also the culmination of many years of leadership on the issue of housing in our country. Madam Chair, welcome. Thank you.
Maxine Waters: (29:28)
Thank you so much, Speaker Pelosi. This is an exciting moment [inaudible 00:29:35] the history of this country as we embark on an infrastructure piece of legislation known as Moving Forward, the Moving Forward Act. It portends, for us, the creation of millions of jobs, which, certainly, coming out of this pandemic, is going to provide all of the jobs that are necessary, I believe, to get us back on the track of a strong economy. I want to thank Representative DeFazio for his tough, focused leadership. He’s done a great job in helping us to put together the kind of legislation that will meet the concerns, not only of our constituents, but of all of the members who have had advice about what should happen.
Maxine Waters: (30:27)
I really want to thank Speaker Pelosi, because I want to tell you that housing and maybe education were not considered in the traditional definition of infrastructure. But she listened, and she’d led the way to ensure that we have a definition that includes not only education, but housing. I’m very pleased. I’m very pleased that this very important piece of legislation, the Moving Forward Act, includes critical funding for our nation’s housing infrastructure. I have proposed this legislation that I think will get us on the road to having the kind of response to our housing crisis that’s so desperately needed. Just as we need to invest in our nation’s roads and bridges, it is also absolutely essential that we invest in our nation’s affordable housing.
Maxine Waters: (31:25)
Every state in the nation has a shortage of housing that is affordable for the lowest income families. The pandemic crisis that we are currently experiencing has exacerbated matters, with millions of Americans across the country having lost their jobs, and struggling to make ends meet. Communities of color continue to suffer disproportionately, both from the virus and the resulting economic damage. This legislative package includes my bill, the Housing is Infrastructure Act, which would make much-needed investments in our nation’s affordable housing infrastructure to create or preserve approximately 1.8 million affordable homes. The creation and preservation of this housing will create jobs throughout the country and create revenue for state and local governments, which will go a long way to help our economy recover from the continuing economic impact of the pandemic.
Maxine Waters: (32:27)
The package includes $70 billion to address the capital needs backlog for almost one million public housing homes, $1 billion to fully address the critical needs backlog for approximately 14,000 Section 515 and 514 rural homes. $1 billion to support mitigation efforts that can protect communities from future disasters and reduce post-disaster funding, federal funding. $5 billion for the Housing Trust Fund to support the creation of-
Maxine Waters: (33:03)
[inaudible 00:33:00] or the Housing Trust Fund to support the creation of nearly 60,000 new units of housing that would be affordable to the lowest income households, as well as other important affordable housing investments.
Maxine Waters: (33:14)
So again, I would like to thank Speaker Pelosi for her leadership and for working so closely with Chairman DeFazio and all of us, we chair these committees and had so much that we wanted to see included. I thank them for putting this entire legislative package together, and I look forward to it’s consideration by the House. Thank you very much and I yield back.
Nancy Pelosi: (33:42)
Thank you very much Madam Chair for your great leadership and for your concern about meeting the housing needs for the American people. I started on the Housing Subcommittee when I came to Congress. So I know full well, I can appreciate Madam Chair’s leadership on this issue.
Nancy Pelosi: (33:58)
Because the Committee cannot proceed without the Chairman, we only had time for one question for Mr. DeFazio. If anyone has a question? Yes, sir. And then we can have one for you [inaudible 00:34:11].
Peter DeFazio: (34:11)
I can probably take two quick questions if they’re quick, I have to be back to reconvene.
Speaker 1: (34:15)
[inaudible 00:34:15] for Mr. Neil.
Peter DeFazio: (34:17)
Well then if we could do one for me, because I have a time certain to reconvene my committee. Anybody have one for me?
Speaker 1: (34:24)
Thank you, Chairman. [inaudible 00:34:25] at The Times. I would like to ask about red tape. US businesses have concerns about permitting, lengthy permitting process plan to address the permitting process in the infrastructure projects. Thank you.
Nancy Pelosi: (34:39)
Removal of red tape for the [crosstalk 00:01:43].
Peter DeFazio: (34:45)
Oh, permanent. Yes. Thanks. Thank you. Thank you. Actually, we adopted substantial permitting reforms in both MAP 21 about a decade ago and in the Fast Act five years ago. The Department of Transportation as yet to fully implement and/or utilize that streamlining we’ve reached a point where 93% of federally funded highway projects and transit projects go forward with an environmental exemption. 4% go through environmental analysis, a relatively simple process. And despite what some say that all the delays are due to environmental laws, 3% are so large and have such an impact, many of them very controversial, that they go through a full NEPA process, National Environmental Policy Act. The Trump administration would like to eliminate the national NEPA. They can’t, and it’s not necessary in order to facilitate infrastructure. An amendment was offered by one of the Republican said that saying, “Well, 60% of those projects, which would be 1.8% of all federally funded projects, I have to go through a full NEPA process.”
Peter DeFazio: (36:08)
Yes they do. And some of them are incredibly controversial. There’s been one pending and they use it all for 20 years in California. It’s never going to get built. They want to build a new freeway to the coast going through Orange County, not going to happen, but they’ll quote, “Oh, 20 years in the making.” No, it’s not going to happen in my own state in Portland, in the Rose Quarter, our state transportation commission tried to short circuit the process and move through massive opposition from all those impacted from individuals to businesses and others. And then they agreed, “Yeah. Okay. We better go through the full NEPA process,” which actually involves public involvement and public input and ultimately evolves litigation, which will delay things. So at this point, there are no new changes, we want DOD to go ahead and implement all the ones we’ve already made. Any other quick question on service or anything in my committee. All right.
Nancy Pelosi: (37:07)
Thank you, Mr. Chariman. Thank you very much, Peter. And one thing about Mr. DeFazio, because you talked about time. He does save time, he gets right to the point. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good luck with [inaudible 00:04:21].
Speaker 2: (37:24)
It’s very easy to talk about what you want to spend money on, how much are the paid fors figured out at this point? What percentage of money totally opposite [inaudible 00:37:36] and what will be-
Mr. Neal: (37:41)
[inaudible 00:37:41] America bonds, we propose private activity bonds. We propose obviously some borrowing based upon what Jay Powell indicated in the last couple of weeks and interest rates are going to stay where they are, not almost at zero for years to come. And the President, as you know, has said $2 trillion of borrowed money. He staked out that position. So we think that on the revenue side, we’re open to some discussions and negotiations, but with Build America bonds, private equity bonds, and some borrowing, we think that by putting out our plan here, time to have the conversation, time to negotiate.
Speaker 2: (38:18)
Nancy Pelosi: (38:20)
The distinguished Chairman has to get back to his, the order of the day as well. Thank you very much.
Mr. Neal: (38:27)
Nancy Pelosi: (38:31)
Thank you, Mr. Neil, for just making this such a green piece of legislation. Thank you all very much. Did you have a question?
Speaker 3: (38:39)
Yes, ma’am. I just wanted to ask quickly, how do you anticipate working with the Senate on this? President Trump has also promised the money to Chairman Neil. I know his conversations with Secretary Mnuchin are ongoing. How do you see this passing from the House to the Senate? To get-
Nancy Pelosi: (38:56)
As was by Mr. Neil earlier, infrastructure legislation has really never been partisan. We’ve always worked together to create jobs, to promote commerce, to preserve our planet and the rest, have clean air, clean water for our children, worked in a very bipartisan way, and we hope that we would do that now. As you know, the Grim Reaper said, “Nothing is ever going any place in the Senate,” but there is tremendous interest in the country in building the infrastructure.
Nancy Pelosi: (39:25)
There is tremendous interest among individual members about how we move forward and how it affects their areas. And when they see the legislation and people see how it does affect their areas, because this is not just a matter of transportation, it’s a matter of clean air, clean water. Some of these water systems are over 100 years old are made of wood and brick. Water, want to drink the water of that?
Nancy Pelosi: (39:51)
And when water be so important, sanitation so important, and the rest as that we see from COVID, the urgency is even more intense now. So we think that this will be nonpartisan, very bipartisan, and we look forward to working together, House and Senate, Democrats and Republicans, and with the White House. The President really wants, we understand he really wants an infrastructure bill. He talks about it quite a bit. And so now let’s get down to what that means for the 21st century. In conclusion, let me just say that with the coronavirus or so many of the needs have been magnified in terms of water needs. And as Mr. Palone talked about infrastructure in terms of telemedicine and distance learning as Mr. Scott talked about, and what Maxine talked about in terms of the housing issues and how the coronavirus has intensified the need for more affordable housing. The list goes on and on, and what Mr. [inaudible 00:41:00] has in the bill, in terms of parks and the rest of this, so many things that our job creating, commerce promoting, just as personal as the air our children breathe and the water they drink.
Nancy Pelosi: (41:16)
And recognizing so many issues as justice issues, environmental justice issues, transit justice issues, as Mr. DeFazio said, transportation, getting people to and from work are essential workers and all does depend on that mass transit. So for these and other reasons, we think the American people understand the need. We know in our situation in California, we had a big initiative on the ballot. And when people understood what it meant to them in their communities overwhelmingly, we were successful with our infrastructure there. So again, our hopes are riding on Mr. DeFazio. He is quite remarkable. He is a real maestro when it comes to so many subjects, including this, and to have this many committees, shall we say, interact with his committee, this is quite a feat. In fact, it is historic and we will be moving forward because it is so very important for the recovery of our country, but that’s all that’s moving with the Moving Forward Act. Thank you all very much.