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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Yesterday, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, joined a Business Roundtable discussion highlighting the need for smart investments in American infrastructure. The panel discussion, moderated by NBC’s Chuck Todd, also included Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, Brendan Bechtel, Chairman and CEO of Bechtel Corp., and Larry Willis, President of the Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO.

Speaking about America’s Water Infrastructure Act, a bipartisan bill to update and modernize water infrastructure and the focus of an EPW Committee hearing yesterday, Senator Carper said: “We have bipartisan support, we have almost unanimous support” for the bill. “We’ll report the bill out of the committee next week, and my hope is that the example we set will speak to the White House, will speak to other committees in the House and Senate and say: ‘Well if those guys can do this and find unanimity on at least the water infrastructure piece, maybe we can find some common ground on other areas, too.”’

 

On increasing surface transportation user fees, like the gas and diesel taxes which haven’t been increased since 1993, Senator Carper said: “If you look in the last three or four years, something like 30 states have voted to increase their user fees. And the Republican legislators who voted to do that in 30 states, 95 percent of them got reelected. The Democrats who voted to do that in 30 states, 90 percent of them got reelected. They actually did better than the folks who voted not to do that.”

Regarding the future of surface transportation, Senator Carper said: “What we need to do is to get prepared for the day when we don’t have so many new cars and trucks and vans that are created that even use gas or diesel. We need a ‘vehicle miles travelled’ approach so that by 2030, whether somebody is using a diesel or electric powered or hydrogen powered vehicle, they’re going to pay something - either a direct or indirect tax - to fund the construction and maintenance of our infrastructure. That’s where we’re going and the question is, what do we do in the meantime, between now and the time when we have a vehicle miles traveled system in place.”

You can watch the full event, “The Cost of Inaction: A Conversation on U.S. Infrastructure,” here.

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