Transportation touches every facet of our lives. If any part of the transportation system breaks down, we feel the impact immediately. Investment in our transportation modes is vital to enhancing our economy, increasing our safety, maintaining our global competitiveness, and most importantly improving our quality of life. Through my work on the House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I am actively working on transportation issues that are important to the 8th District.
Surface Transportation Bill
On December 3, 2015, I joined my colleagues in the House in passing legislation to authorize surface transportation programs that was signed into law by President Obama on December 4, 2015. The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act authorizes $305 billion over fiscal years 2016 through 2020 for highway, highway and motor vehicle safety, public transportation, motor carrier safety, hazardous materials safety, rail, and research, technology, and statistics programs.
Freight and Moving Goods
New Jersey’s economy depends largely on our ability to effectively and efficiently move goods. More than 269,000, or approximately 1 in 8, jobs in the state are directly affected by the goods movement industry, which includes the shipping of everything from food and clothing to cars and industrial supplies. More efficient goods movement enhances our ability to move on the roads, decreases harmful environmental effects, and minimizes damage to our infrastructure.
The Department of Transportation estimates that freight tons transported are expected to double by 2035, and this increase will lead to increased congestion on our nation’s already overburdened highways, railways, airports, and ports.
The FAST Act included an average $1.2 billion per year for a new National Highway Freight Program and established a discretionary competitive grant program of $4.5 billion over five years to provide financial assistance to nationally and regionally significant highway, rail, port, and intermodal freight and highway projects. As New Jersey’s freight capabilities continue to expand with projects like the deepening of the Port of New York and New Jersey and the raising of the Bayonne Bridge, I will continue to advocate for dedicated funding streams to assist large multimodal freight projects.
The aviation industry is a crucial sector of the United States economy. Commercial aviation is responsible for roughly five percent of our gross domestic product and contributes roughly eleven million American jobs to our economy.
The 8th District of New Jersey is home to part of Newark Liberty International Airport, the nation’s oldest airfield and home to the nation’s first commercial airline terminal. The airport employs 20,000 people and contributes around $22.9 billion in economic activity to the New Jersey- New York region.
It is important that the concerns of pilots, airport employees, and passengers are addressed in aviation legislation. As Congress considers the reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration in the 115th Congress, I will work with my colleagues on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to ensure that the concerns of the people of New Jersey are heard.
New Jersey is located on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor (NEC), the nation’s busiest rail line that connects Washington, D.C. to Boston, Massachusetts. The NEC is at or near capacity at many locations, and much of its infrastructure is outdated and in need of upgrades. The only intercity passenger rail crossing that connects New Jersey to Manhattan is over 100 years old and operates at 95 percent capacity at rush hour which creates a bottleneck that limits train volume across the whole NEC.
The Gateway Program is a comprehensive package of strategic investments on the NEC to improve current Amtrak service and allow for greater passenger capacity. Gateway will increase track, tunnel, bridge, and station capacity, and eventually create four mainline tracks between Newark, New Jersey, and Penn Station, New York. The target completion is 2030. Many residents of the 8th District rely on Amtrak for passenger rail and will benefit from improving the NEC. As a Member of the House Subcommittee on Railroads and Pipelines, I will monitor this project as it moves forward.
More on Transportation
This week in Washington, I cosponsored a resolution mandating anti-sexual harassment training in the House, attended a Transportation and Infrastructure markup on bills related to disaster recovery and combating human trafficking, met with a former Venezuelan mayor, and met with members of JP Morgan Chase. I also cosponsored a resolution to retain the State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction.
Last week in Washington, the Republicans introduced a tax plan, I questioned FEMA administrators on their disaster response efforts at a Transportation and Infrastructure Hearing, listened to the testimony of a North Korean defector at a Foreign Affairs Hearing, and held a number of meetings. Additionally, the House voted on legislation to strip funds from critical health programs.
While in Washington this week, I cosponsored several pieces of legislation that would make it harder for guns to be converted, managed two bills on the House Floor, and I pressed a panel at the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee Hearing on the urgent need for investment in transportation infrastructure. I also met with members of the New Jersey Education Association to discuss education priorities.
While in Washington this week, I expressed my concerns about the lack of infrastructure investment at a Highways and Transit Subcommittee Hearing, spent time with American heroes at the Congressional Charity Golf Classic, discussed the importance of engaging with the Caribbean at a Western Hemisphere Subcommittee hearing, and held a number of meetings.
While in Washington last week, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee marked up the 21st Century AIRR Act, I questioned UN Ambassador Nikki Haley at a Foreign Affairs Committee Meeting, and held a number of meetings.
This week in Washington, the Senate released their proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act, I attended a Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee hearing on passenger rail service, and held a number of meetings.
This week in Washington, I spoke out against the President’s budget proposal and the CBO score of the Republican health care bill, attended markups in the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the Foreign Affairs Committee, and the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee, and held a number of meetings.
This week in Washington, I pushed for a special prosecutor and independent commission to investigate the Administration’s ties to Russia, attended a hearing on air traffic control (ATC) privatization and energy opportunities in South America, and held a number of meetings.
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Congressman Sires participated in a House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure hearing that examined U.S. airline customer service policies in light of recent incidents on major U.S. air carriers.
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, H.R. 1679, the FEMA Accountability, Modernization and Transparency Act of 2017, cosponsored by Congressman Sires, unanimously passed the House of Representatives. Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA) and Rep. Albio Sires introduced H.R. 1679 to ensure that the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) efforts to modernize its grants management system are accessible and transparent.