Yesterday, Congressman Michael Guest (MS-03) delivered a statement during the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) markup of the Democrats’ Surface Transportation Reauthorization legislation, criticizing the wasteful spending included in the bill. The legislation includes spending for unnecessary projects, such as the building of charging stations for electric vehicles with provisions that would remove funding for states that are unable or unwilling to comply, as well as the use of infrastructure funds for landscaping and art projects.

The Republican alternative to the bill, the Surface Transportation Advanced through Reform, Technology and Efficient Review (STARTER) Act 2.0, focuses on reducing burdensome regulations and increasing states’ flexibility in their infrastructure investments.

During the 19-hour markup, Republicans offered over 150 amendments to the Democrats’ transportation bill, almost all of which were rejected by Democrats, despite calls for bipartisanship by Republican Members. The amendments proposed by Republicans focused on reducing the cost of the legislation and addressing priorities of rural Americans and business owners.

You can find the transcript of Congressman Guest’s statement below: 

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The last year has shown that we are capable of finding common ground, and I have always believed transportation and infrastructure is an issue that provides tremendous opportunity for compromise. I would like to thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their continued willingness to work together to create successful legislation. However, today, I would like to discuss the growing concerns that many Americans have over the increased size of the budget and the impact of the legislation we are considering on the national debt.

It is vital that we address our aging infrastructure in a way that is both efficient and fiscally responsible, which is why this conversation is so important. Hard-working Americans are worried about the President’s $6 trillion budget proposal and the burden it would place on them, their children, and their grandchildren. Additionally, a Harvard-Harris poll showed that 80% of registered voters are concerned about the wasteful spending in the Administration’s and Democratic majority’s infrastructure plans. Unfortunately, the bill we are considering today continues this trend of excessive and wasteful spending on Democratic priorities that support the Green New Deal, blue states over red, and urban centers over rural Americans.

My Republican colleagues and I have proposed legislation that would address the infrastructure problems that Americans face through the Surface Transportation Advanced through Reform, Technology and Efficient Review (STARTER) Act. The STARTER Act 2.0 is a fiscally-sound, long-term surface transportation reauthorization bill that would provide historic levels of investment on what Americans believe truly constitute as infrastructure. 

Instead of simply throwing taxpayer dollars at our infrastructure issues, the STARTER Act 2.0 would reduce the burdensome regulations in order to make federal investments more efficient. However, my colleagues across the aisle have not shown a willingness to adopt the provisions in this act. I am worried that this unwillingness to compromise will leave behind millions of rural Americans. 

In states like Mississippi, building electric vehicle infrastructure would not be the best use of federal transportation dollars. The demand for electric vehicles in Mississippi is extremely low, but this legislation would provide previously-unheard of investments in electric vehicle infrastructure and take funding away from states that don’t comply. This bill would continue provisions harmful to our agriculture haulers when these regulations could be easily removed. And, above all, it would place a heavy burden on our children and our grandchildren with unnecessary provisions.

This bill is bad for our economy, it’s bad for our rural states, and, without significant change, this bill is bad for America. 

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.

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