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.
A National Infrastructure Initiative
There is an urgent need to repair and modernize our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. As a member of the House of Representatives’ Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I have long worked to ensure that communities in New Jersey and around the country have the resources they need to fix their transportation networks, and upgrade critical energy and water infrastructure. In fact, as a member of the conference committee to negotiate the Fix America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act of 2015, I worked to provide New Jersey with over $5 billion for federal-aid highway funding and over $3 billion for transit program funding.
I am encouraged that the Trump Administration shares my urgency, but I disagree with their approach to addressing it. The President’s infrastructure initiative, which was advertised as a $1.5 trillion Federal investment, actually only provides $200 billion over ten years. That is not nearly enough to tackle the nation’s infrastructure projects backlog.
In the 115th Congress, I have supported legislation to provide hundreds of billions of dollars in infrastructure investments for States and cities (H.R. 1164), legislation to empower ports across the country to keep the air in their community clean and mitigate community impacts of continuous truck traffic (H.R. 4147), and a resolution calling for a bold jobs and infrastructure package that benefits all Americans (H.Con.Res. 63). Federal infrastructure funding does not have to be a partisan fight and I look forward to working with my colleagues on a bill that does not short change our communities in need.
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.
The Gateway Project
The Gateway Project is an absolute priority for me, for our District, for our State, and for the nation. The century-old infrastructure that connects New Jersey to New York is crumbling due to its age and to the residual damage caused by Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Repairing and upgrading this infrastructure, which includes the Hudson River tunnels and the Portal Bridge over the Hackensack River, is absolutely vital for our economy. The tunnels carry 200,000 passengers crossing between Newark and Manhattan each day - this is economic activity which the nation cannot afford to lose.
That is why I have long advocated for Federal financial assistance for the Gateway Project, and have continuously expressed my disbelief every time the Trump Administration has walked these Federal commitments back. The Administration’s outrages are too numerous to list in one letter, but they include a wholesale unjustified rejection of an agreed-to financing plan between our State and the government, and an admission that President Trump himself sees the Project as an excess.
I do not accept the logic that Federal financial assistance for the Gateway Project is an excess - especially when New Jersey, New York, and the Port Authority have worked so hard to identify ways to pay for half of the $30 billion Project. In fact, I relayed these concerns directly to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao at a recent hearing of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. The Gateway Project is too important to be the subject of political gamesmanship, and I will keep working to bring this assistance home for the thousands of people who depend on this crucial transportation infrastructure.
More on Transportation
Last week in Washington, my Democratic colleagues and I supported the introduction of two bills that are priorities for our majority in the House of Representatives. I voted in support of the public release of the Mueller report and attended hearings on the President’s fiscal year (FY) 2020 budget proposal. Additionally, I met with North Hudson Firefighters, the Executive Director of the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, and the Ambassador from the Dominican Republic.
Last week in Washington, the House of Representatives voted to restore access to the ballot for all Americans and clean up the ethics of our electoral system. I met with my colleagues on the House Committee on the Budget and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, as well as began fighting for our community in the fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations process.
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ) issued the following statement regarding the state of the economy and future national infrastructure legislation:
Last week in Washington, I attended hearings on all three committees that I serve – Budget, Foreign Affairs, and Transportation – as well as served my first Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere hearing as the Chairman. The House of Representatives also passed legislation addressing the President’s national emergency declaration, gun control, and the future of STEM education.
Last week in Washington, my bill to reform commuter safety inspections passed the House, along with increased child care services for veterans’ families. I met with representatives of the New Jersey Education Association, the Puerto Rico Manufacturing Association, and a number of foreign delegations. I continue to work with my colleagues on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs to address the crisis in Venezuela, and my colleagues and I on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure met for the first time in the 116th Congress.
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Representative Albio Sires (D-NJ) joined new and returning Members of Congress for the first meeting of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee. As the senior-most representative from New Jersey on the Committee, Congressman Sires is in a unique position to advance the interests of the State of New Jersey and the priorities of New Jersey’s 8th Congressional District.
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Congressman Sires released the following statement following the President’s State of the Union Address last night:
“Last night, the President made a sweeping speech addressing a range of issues essential to the American public and called for greater unity in government. However, in his speech, he failed to present real achievable solutions that will bolster American security, prosperity, and well-being.
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, a bill introduced by Congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ) was passed by the House of Representatives and reported to the Senate for consideration. The bill, H.R. 543, requires the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to provide Congress with notice of when a comprehensive safety assessment is being conducted on an intercity or commuter rail transit agency that serves their district, was debated and passed without objection.
Last week, I was elected Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Civilian Security, and Trade by my colleagues on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. I visited the Hudson River Tunnel last Monday and worked with my colleagues in the New Jersey Congressional delegation to implore action on crucial infrastructure projects. Additionally, I voted to raise the pay of civilian federal employees, including those impacted by the shutdown, and sponsored legislation to address the crisis in Venezuela.
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Representative Albio Sires (D-NJ), Representative Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), Representative Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ), and Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) sent a letter from the New Jersey congressional delegation to Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Elaine Chao in support of the Hudson Tunnel Project. The letter, which included 9 Members of the New Jersey delegation, urges the Secretary to move the Project forward and not allow long delays or government shutdowns to continue affecting this critical infrastructure plan.