Chairman Carper’s Opening Statement: Hearing on State and Local Implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On September 21, 2022, the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a hearing to examine state and local implementation of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Below is the opening statement of Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.), as prepared for delivery:

“Today, we are here to discuss the implementation of the historic Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, or Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, as it’s affectionately known. Specifically, we will look at implementation through the lens of our state and local partners.

“As you all know, our committee played a pivotal role in the development of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law last year. Two pieces of legislation that we unanimously reported out of this committee — the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act and the Drinking Water and Wastewater Improvement Act — became the foundation upon which this new law was built. 

“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law was a once-in-a-generation investment in our nation’s infrastructure. The law provides more than $350 billion for our nation’s highway programs. It increased formula funding to the states by 34 percent and significantly increased funding for competitive grant programs for states and for local governments.

“In the ten months since President Biden signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law into law, the U.S. Department of Transportation has been hard at work standing up new programs and administering the historic amounts of highway funding that Congress provided.

“In March of this year, this committee held its first hearing on the implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. During that hearing, we heard from Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg about the Department’s work to promptly get formula funding out to the states. This is critical so that states can get to work on projects that will improve their highways, bridges, and multimodal infrastructure. 

“As a recovering governor, I also know that the hard work of carrying out our highway programs is not just a federal responsibility. State and local agencies play a critical role in prioritizing and ultimately choosing the projects that are funded in their states, depending on their own unique needs and challenges. As the recipients of federal highway funding, states are on the front lines of constructing and maintaining our national network of highways and bridges and improving safety and equity for all roadway users. 

“To that end, I have been pleased to see the U.S. Department of Transportation continuing to roll out new programs and provide funding guidance to help states and local governments navigate our new infrastructure law. 

“This includes guidance for the Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-Saving Transportation (PROTECT) formula program, which this committee created in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law under the historic $18 billion climate title. The Department of Transportation released guidance for this new program in July. It provides nearly $7.3 billion over five years to make highway infrastructure more resilient to the effects of climate change.

“The PROTECT program will be a game changer for states like Delaware, which is the lowest-lying state in our nation. Our state has highways like Route 1 along our coast that are at an increased risk of being washed over by a storm or flood.

“Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, states like Delaware now have formula funding specifically dedicated to protecting our vulnerable coastal infrastructure. 

“In addition to the critical role that states play, it’s also important to recognize that counties, cities, and towns also have unique transportation challenges and opportunities. That is why we also enhanced the role of local governments in delivering federally-funded projects in their communities in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. For example, we improved the ability of smaller communities to receive Transportation Alternatives funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects. 

“The law also makes state and local governments eligible recipients of several new discretionary grant programs, including the Reconnecting Communities Program and the Rural Surface Transportation Grant Program. These programs will help state and local governments meet the needs of their communities — whether they are urban or rural — to better improve resiliency, equity, and safety. These were some of the top priorities we heard from stakeholders when developing this legislation.

“Given the large funding increase and the number of new surface transportation programs that were created, I believe we need to hear the perspectives of those on the ground. Doing so allows us to know what’s working well and what might need further attention.

“Our hearing today will allow us to hear from state and local leaders. It’s an opportunity to ask how they’re doing and what they’re doing with the funding provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

“Fortunately, we are privileged to have a distinguished panel of state and local leaders with us today. Joining us are Nicole Majeski, the Secretary of the Delaware Department of Transportation; Mayor Regina Romero from the City of Tucson, Arizona; Jimmy Wriston, the Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Transportation; and Jim Tymon, the Executive Director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. 

“Each of these witnesses will be able to provide a unique and diverse perspective, including perspectives from a coastal state, a rural mountain state, a city in the desert southwest, and an organization representing state Departments of Transportation across the country.

“I am particularly pleased to welcome Nicole Majeski, who leads the Delaware Department of Transportation. I welcome Secretary Majeski and all of our witnesses here today. We look forward to hearing from each of you.”