The transportation infrastructure networks that serve our country are having a hard time keeping up with service demands. More people are driving or using public transportation, but states have less money to repair and upgrade this infrastructure. Our congressional district is not an exception and we have all struggled with old bridges, late trains, and potholed roads.
As a member of the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure, I have worked to authorize programs that allow New Jersey to tap into federal money for infrastructure projects. The federal government has a responsibility to help states that need assistance financing upgrades, and I continuously work to increase funding for grant programs that cities can use to finance big infrastructure upgrades projects.
The federal government has an important role in helping states finance big transportation projects that benefit large swaths of the country through the movements of goods and people. There are many projects around the country – bridge upgrades, commuter rail maintenance, and road repair – which cannot be finished without a helping hand from Congress.
This Congress, I introduced:
- H.R. 543, a bill which requires the Federal Railroad Administration to inform Members of Congress when it is conducting a safety audit of a railroad within a Member’s district. This bill was passed the House of Representatives unanimously on February 6, 2019 and now awaits consideration in the Senate.
I have co-sponsored numerous infrastructure bills including:
- H.R. 180, the Build America Act of 2019, directing the Department of Transportation to carry out a national infrastructure investment grant program for big investments in transportation infrastructure.
- H.R. 1428, the Transportation Infrastructure for Job Creation Act, providing an additional $7.5 billion for national infrastructure investments under an existing Department of Transportation grant program.
- I supported S. 1689, a bill to help states facing water-related public health threats access federal funds for projects that remove lead from drinking water. This bill was passed by the House and Senate and was signed into law by the President on October 4, 2019.
The Gateway Project
The most important, and complex, infrastructure network on the east coast is in our District. The tunnels and rail lines that connect New Jersey and New York are over 100 years old and were battered during Superstorm Sandy. They are in operation today, used to move freight and passengers throughout the region, but they are in desperate need of repair. Without federal government help, state authorities will be forced to shut them down for emergency maintenance or a tunnel could become unuseable - reducing the capacity by up to 75 percent. The Gateway Project is a massive undertaking to protect the economic viability of the region that includes repairing and upgrading these tunnels that tens of thousands of commuters travel through each day as they go in and out of Manhattan.
New Jersey cannot finance the project by itself, and it should not have to. As a Member of Congress, I have consistently pushed the Department of Transportation to move the Gateway Project’s federal grant application through the Department’s project review process. Repairing and expanding these tunnels will impact anyone who commutes in the northeastern United States or travels by rail along the entire east coast. We cannot afford to play politics with something this important.
Aviation and Ports
The aviation industry is an important sector of our economy and commercial aviation employs thousands of people around the country. Our congressional district is home to part of Newark Liberty International Airport employs 22,000 people, serves 50 airline carriers, and generates $33 billion in economic activity.
This Congress, I have supported legislation that authorizes airline safety programs, pays federal airline employees in case of a government shutdown, and requires training for airline crew members to identify and address fume events onboard aircraft. I will continue my work in the 166th Congress to ensure that our airports have the resources they need to serve my constituents and our airlines have the tools they need to keep passengers safe.
Our district is also home to ports that serve as a throughway for products coming into our country and goods being sold abroad. I have supported legislative efforts to increase funding for grants and loans programs that our ports can draw from for upgrades and repair projects that keep our district competitive.
Transportation and the infrastructure necessary to keep it up impacts our everyday lives. If any one of our nation’s transportation infrastructure network breaks down, Americans immediately feel the impact - especially residents of New Jersey’s 8th Congressional District. That is why I have worked so hard to provide our States and cities with the federal funds they need to maintain current infrastructure networks, expand current infrastructure, and build new projects to meet the needs of growing cities and expanding economies.
More on Transportation
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ) highlighted the importance of funding for the Gateway Project in an exchange with Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg at a committee hearing titled “The Administration’s Priorities for Transportation Infrastructure.”
This week, we witnessed racism and misogyny on display as eight people were senselessly murdered in Atlanta. The rise in hate crimes and violence against Asian Americans in the last year follows a disturbing trend and is made worse by the discriminatory language used by leaders in our public spaces. The shooting in Atlanta is the latest violent act perpetrated on innocent victims, and another example that we don’t need of why this country’s gun laws do not keep us safe. We must do better to hold accountable those whose actions and inactions led to this week’s shooting.
This week, Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act, and President Biden signed it into law, allocating $1.9 trillion of relief to American families. The House also passed several other important bills aimed at protecting workers’ rights and strengthening gun safety laws. I attended a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing with Secretary of State Blinken.
Last week, the House passed the American Rescue Plan, a comprehensive $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill that will help hard-working Americans and reinvigorate our economy. The House also passed legislation to ensure equal rights regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. I attended a markup of the American Rescue Plan with the House Committee on the Budget and attended a markup for the House Foreign Affairs Committee on legislation to revitalize the State Department.
This week, I joined a roundtable hosted by Kean University to discuss reaching urban communities with vaccine messages. I signed onto multiple pieces of legislation to overhaul the immigration system in our country, support automatic voter registration, secure more working rights for Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees, require an aviation preparedness plan for future pandemics, and create a tax credit for individuals who purchase an electric bicycle.
(Washington, D.C.) — Congressman Sires (D-NJ) released the following statement regarding his support for Congressman Jerrold Nadler’s (D-NY) Safe and Quiet Skies Act, H.R. 389, that would mandate strict regulation of commercial air tour operations:
(Washington, D.C.) — Yesterday, Congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ) voted to advance legislative proposals included in a relief package authorized through budget reconciliation in a House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure markup. The proposal includes nearly $100 billion in support for transportation workers and communities devastated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as part of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan.
This week, I voted in favor of passing the House resolution on budget reconciliation, and voted to remove Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) from her committee assignments, joined by a bipartisan group of House members. I cosponsored a multiple pieces of legislation including providing additional financial relief to unemployed individuals, expanding the number of transit agencies transitioning to zero-emissions bus fleets, providing grants to community health centers for mental health screening, and expanding awareness and services related to COVID-19.
In the 117th Congress, I am looking forward to returning to the three committees on which I served in the 116th Congress: the House Committees on the Budget, Foreign Affairs, and Transportation and Infrastructure. I am honored to be returning as Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere.
(Washington, D.C.) – Congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ) will be serving as a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in the 117th Congress. As the senior-most representative from New Jersey, Congressman Sires will also be serving on the Highways and Transit Subcommittee and the Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee.