tv Transportation HUD Secretaries Testify on Infrastructure CSPAN May 21, 2021 2:58am-5:20am EDT
we'll move to the next witness or senator until it's resolved. senator toomey and i have agreed to go by seniority for this hearing. we're honored to welcome secretary marcia fudge and secretary pete buttigieg. president biden promised an administration that reflects the country it serves we're lucky to
have two cabinet departments led by former mayors from the industrial heartland. mayors know better than most how america's cities, towns and rural areas are often led to fend for themselves. homes bought up by rich outside investors left empty, roads and bridges falling apart and neighborhoods and workers caught off from opportunity. now we have a once in a generation opportunity to rebuild this country's infrastructure. the investments we make through hud and through d.o.t. will matter for our counted. these are the -- i'm sorry. and will bring down the cost of housing and transportation for workers and their families. these are the costs that matter to most people's lives, your mortgages, utilities, car payment, bus fair. all of these will create jobs
and grow local communities. when work has dignity, everyone can afford housing and can afford to get to work. over the past months we've heard from leaders in housing and public transportation, not only in washington but local leaders who understand what communities really need to grow. these two distinguished cabinet secretaries are both, both experts and local leaders. they illustrated how decades -- all of these leaders illustrate how decades have set us back. it's common sense when we don't invest in infrastructure a modern economy requires that we lose out to competitors. communities stagnate or in the words of our colleagues from montana sometimes they dry up. pollution harms families, jobs, prosperity, float only a small number of wealthy cities or move out of the country all together. rural communities have not gotten investments they need to build housing for families.
public transit needs help. households who don't have a car, that number is growing as baby boomers age. all these problems are often at their most persistent in brown and black neighborhoods that have never had the transformative federal investment in their communities. when we talked about red lining, from jim crow to red lining, we live in communities we built in the 20th century with the biases of those times. it's time to invest in creating communities that will meet the needs of this country in this century. this time we can't leave anyone behind we'll rebuild our communities to work for everyone. the americans jobs plan is an effort to reverse decades of neglect, put into foundation a 21st century economy where people have jobs and economic security to raise the community they want to live in.
it would produce, preserve and retro fit 2 million affordable homes, address the huge backlogs of housing, make our homes more energy efficient to bring down utility costs all while creating job opportunities in the building trades and other sectors. we'll conduct new bus lines in cities like columbus and cincinnati. it would tackle the repair backlog in the transit industry, estimated to be in excess of $100 billion. president biden and i agree on the need to replace aging transit buses with zero emission vehicles made here in america. the jobs plan would allow us to replace 50,000 buses. the administration recognizes the importance of ensuring that investments in housing and transit work together of encouraging communities to think about how they can help make it affordable for families to live there. we know when a business decides where to build a new
manufacturing facility or a family decides to relocate for a new job. they think about how long will the commute be, will the paycheck get eaten up by rent and mortgage, is there broadband, child care nearby. communities need all of them if we want them to survive and thrive. while much of today's conversation focuses on housing and transit investment we must tackle all the investments. in secretary fudge's and my home state, northern kentucky carries approximately 3% of the gdp but the bridge is outdated. our committee member states have thousands of large and small bridges in need of repair. those bridges carry millions of cars and buses every day. i look forward to working with both secretaries in the bridge investment act to make sure that congress finally tackles overdue
bridge projects. we call this the american jobs plan for a reason. almost all the jobs will be here, they can't be shipped overseas. you can't repair an american railroad track or bridge from china. we're going to build in american with american materials and union workers. the president called this a blue collar blueprint to rebuild america, he's right. we need to build infrastructure, protect them from climate disasters, put americans to, work in good paying jobs. the two former mayors today, these two mayors know the pride people take in their neighborhoods and hometowns. people want to see their communities thrive and grow, they want job opportunity for their kids, transportation in housing options they can afford and local leaders of both parties are desperate. i talk to mayors and county commissioners all the time, in ohio many more republicans than democrats in those offices,
they're desperate for the resources and support to make those dreams a reality. for decades they watched washington point to soaring stock prices as evidence the economy is doing well yet the communities too often aren't. the wall street wealth never translated into investment in their own main streets. we change that approach starting now. i look forward to hearing from both our witnesses, secretary marcia fudge and secretary pete buttigieg. senator toomey is recognized. >> thank you mr. chairman, secretary fudge and secretary buttigieg welcome to both of you. i a week ago i met with president biden and a group of republican colleagues to discuss a potential bipartisan infrastructure package, secretary buttigieg was there. it was a corrective meeting and i'm encouraged by the president's apparent willingness to negotiate with republicans. i would suggest that there should be three features of an
infrastructure package if it's going to have broad partisan support. it should support real, physical infrastructure. that's the platforms we share. the platforms and systems we use to move peoples and goods and services throughout our economy. those are things that most americans understand to be infrastructure. things like roads and bridges and ports and airports and transit. second, a package that we agree to cannot undue the 2017 tax reforms that helped create the best economy of my lifetime. before covid, just a little over a year ago, we were experiencing an almost unprecedented economic boom. we had the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years, lowest rates for african-american, hispanic americans, many subsets. we had more job openings than people looking for jobs we had record low poverty rate.
wages were growing fastest for workers. so this economy was narrowing the income gap while performing at a spectacular pace. i'm suggesting it would be a good thing to get back to the best economy of my lifetime. we won't get there if we undo the tax reform that helped us achieve that. third we should not pay for a big infrastructure package by borrowing or printing hundreds more billions dollars. the good things is we have covid legislated funds that congress can repurpose. according to cbo, over $700 billion of the democrats' march so-called covid bill won't be spent by the end of this year. and the biden administration has already begun repurposing unneeded excess covid funds from previous bills. hhs has diverted $1.7 billion originally meant for covid and they're using it instead for
unaccompanied minors at the border. so what congress should not do is simply go on a spending bing while we have more taxpayer dollars on a liberal wish list. let's take housing for example, the biden administration is proposing almost a quarter of a trillion dollars for housing in an infrastructure plan. so first of all, let's be clear, housing is housing. housing is not infrastructure. of course, people need houses. they also need food and clothing and education and health care. that doesn't mean that every human need is infrastructure. it's not. we can reach an agreement on infrastructure. but they want to spend, the administration that is, a quarter of a trillion dollars on top of the fact that just this past march, two months ago, they spent $32 billion for housing. and that came after congress had provided, over the course of last year, $80 billion for housing. which itself was on top of the
roughly 50 billion we spend annually on hud alone. not to mention the billions we spend on other housing programs if you lost track of the tens of billions of dollars it's hard to keep it straight, it's a staggering amount of money. the same on the transit proposal. the biden administration wants to spend another $85 billion for transit as part of the infrastructure bill. that would come after the democrats in march spent 30 billion for transit, which itself came after $40 billion last year for transit. and that was on top of the $13 billion that we annually spend on transit. so in case you weren't using a calculator to keep track, that's $83 billion that congress spent on transit over the course of one year. that number actually exceeds the annual operating and capital costs combined of every single transit agency in america for a full year.
well, our democratic colleagues point to a decline in ridership, but it didn't drop to zero. if it had, we'd have to ask ourselves if we should throw all this money at a system with no riders. in addition, state and local governments ought to have some responsibility for this. and we sent them $850 billion on top of last year's all-time record high collection of revenue. some of the provisions in the administration's so-called infrastructure plan are so unrelated, completely unrelated to infrastructure that it's hard to even consider them with a straight face. $400 billion to expand medicaid. $100 billion in consumer subsidies and rebates to purchase electronic vehicles. the list goes on and on. only 6% of the administration's $2.2 trillion so-called infrastructure plan actually goes to roads and bridges. this excessive government
spending is not sustainable, contributing to inflation already with us, that's a tax our constituents have to bear when they buy any of the things they need in life. none of this should come as a surprise. even president obama's treasury secretary warned us of excessive spending and he was issuing that warning about the bill in march which at $1.9 trillion he thought was too big. they passed it anyway and now our democratic colleagues are coming back to spend literally trillions more. let me end where i began. in my view, i think it's possible for us to enact a bipartisan bill that responsibly boosts federal support for real infrastructure. if all sides are willing to negotiate in good faith i think an agreement can be struck. i hope we will focus on that real infrastructure that our economy and society needs and do it in a responsible fashion. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator toomey.
i'll introduce our witnesses, the honorable marcia fudge, my former congresswoman from ohio. she has firsthand experience making housing more affordable for more families including as the mayor of warnsville heights, ohio. it was an honor to chair the hearing reporting her nomination out of this committee. it was my first hearing as chair of this committee. she was our first nominee reported out since i've been chairman. it's an honor to work with a fellow ohioan. welcome, glad you're with us. pete buttigieg served as mayor of south bend, indiana, state to the west of mine. mayor pete showed his passion in infrastructure to improve the lives of workers in south bend introducing a smarts streets initiative. those recognized as a national
model. with secretary pete at the helm d.o.t. is in a position to transform streets, bridges and railways, using our greatest asset, american workers our country is fortunate. welcome. secretary fudge you are recognized for five minutes to provide your opening statement. welcome. >> thank you, mr. chairman. always a pleasure to see you. thank you for the great work you do for your state. mr. ranking member, mr. toomey and the members of the senate committee, thank you for this opportunity to discuss president biden's american jobs plan. today, as america rebuilds from covid-19 pandemic, we face a fundamental decision about our future. we can choose to take a bold new direction that will make the united states more prosperous, more equitable and more resilient in decades to come. a bold new direction that better positions us to when the global competition for the 21st
century. the that bold new direction is the american jobs is plan. if we do not pass this plan we will choose instead a different path. we'll return our nation to the position we occupied before covid-19. to an america beset by crumbling bridges, buildings and homes, an america unprepared for the danger posed by climate change. an america grappling with an affordable housing crisis that threatens the security and dignity of people in every corner of our nation. even before the pandemic, nearly 11 million americans spent more than half of their incomes on rent. covid-19 has only made this situation worse. especially for communities of color and people of modest means. the american jobs plan would address our housing crisis head on in cities, small towns, rural communities and tribal nations. the plan invests $213 billion to build and modernize more than 2
million affordable and sustainable places to live. to help more americans realize their dream of home ownership. the plan includes a new federal tax credit based on the proposed neighborhoods home investment act. this credit can lead to the construction and renovation of approximately 500,000 single family homes. in addition to creating more housing, the american jobs plan preserves the affordable housing we have. nearly 2 million people, including more than 1 million americans of color, live in public housing. yet much of our public housing is more than 50 years old and faces significant capital needs. the american jobs plan contains $40 billion down payment to help repair and rehabilitate our public housing infrastructure. this would improve the quality of life for residents. further more, public housing is often located in underserved communities that are especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
investments that reduce energy use and increase resiliency can mitigate the risks. the plan helps make america's homes and public housing more efficient and better equipped to with stand extreme weather. it contains $2 billion in indian housing block grants to expand affordable housing, resilient infrastructure and sustainable community development of tribal lands. all told the investment in the american jobs plan under score a truth that housing is a vital part of our infrastructure. a home can connect us to better jobs more affordable transportation options and communities with cleaner air and cleaner water. it can connect our children with good schools, providing them with a pathway to earn a brighter future. our homes are bedrock, brick and mortar institutions that lay the foundation for a stronger and more connected society, just
like our streets, our highways and our airports. to put it simply, our homes serve as a bridge to greater opportunities for a better life. if we want the united states to remain the greatest nation in the world, then we must first take care of home in the most literal sense. to pass an infrastructure plan that fails to address our affordable housing crisis would be akin to building a road that leads to nowhere. that is why i am honored to appear today, alongside secretary buttigieg. the biden/harris administration understands in order to successfully enact our jobs plan our agencies must work in unison to build sustainable infrastructure, and expand access to housing and transportation. together we can revitalize our nation's infrastructure, including our housing infrastructure and create an america that's more resilient, thriving and interconnected than ever before.
with that i'm happy to answer any questions you have. >> secretary buttigieg you're recognized for five minutes thank you. >> thanks, chairman brown, ranking member toomey, members of the committee i appreciate the opportunity to testify before you today and i want to thank you for your support for the department of transportation and our vital mission. i'm honored to be here with secretary fudge to discuss america's transportation and housing needs. particularly in this moment of great challenge and opportunity. we know that public transit has been hit hard by the pandemic and i want to thank you and your colleagues for passing the american rescue plan and other relief packages that provided a lifeline for public transit for people who depend on it and for the workers who get people where they need to do. public transit is key to building vibrant and interconnected communities, creating jobs, reducing pollution, combatting climate change, advancing racial equity and providing travel options for
everyone. too many families across the nation are forced to choose between living far away from work so they can afford housing or paying more more housing than they can afford in order to have a reasonable commute. this puts a toll on working families losing time with loved ones and money. our lowest income americans are spending more on housing and transportation than they're taking in each month. building transit and affordable housing alongside each other can be transformational for communities and families. that's why i'm so grateful to sit next to secretary fudge, virtually of course, at this hearing. when people can move safely and easily in their community, it can improve the lives of those who call that community home. that's why transit oriented development and public transit are such priorities for our department and me personally. we've made $180 million available for cleaner, transit buses. we allocated $187 million to
help communities expand bus rapid transit. recently made $10 million available to help more local governments plan for development if their communities. i'm pleased to announce the d.o.t. will issue guidance to use the financing programs. and i'm thrilled that d.o.t. is reinvigorating a partnership with the department of housing and urban development to identify ways for more affordable housing choices near public transit. we are looking to work with additional agencies to make walking, biking, public transit and other options more widely available to rural and disadvantaged communities. these will benefit communities across the country but we must do more. we face a $1 trillion backlog in needed repairs and improvements across our transportation
infrastructure. the consequences of decades of disinvestment are in every state and have fallen on low income communities and communities of colors who are nearly four times more likely to compute by public transit. our status quo is unstainable, it's unfair and holding the economy back. years of tinkering around the edges have not worked. which brings us to the american jobs program. as we rebuild from the worse economic crisis in generations this plan will provide the largest investment in jobs since world war ii. it will create millions of good paying jobs the majority of which will not require a college degree for americans to help expand and operate our transit system, modernize roads and bridges and build electric vehicles of the future. $85 billion for public transit
making it a more reliable, attractable and accessible option to more people in more communities. it will help tackle the climate crisis by making public transit the choice for people. and by replacing nearly 40% of the existing diesel transit fleet with electric feels. i thank you for your leadership on reducing fossil fuel emissions in the transportation sector and for ensuring vehicles of the future are bill built by union workers here in the u.s. this would be the largest plan for equity in history. at least 40% of the plan's investments will flow to overburdened and under served communities. and it has $20 billion to reconnect neighbors cutoff by past decisions. i believe this is the best chance in our lifetime to modernize our infrastructure so americans can thrive. our chance to provide current
colleagues passed a spending bill that provided $5 billion for emergency housing vouchers be to be distributed to people experiencing homelessness, victims of human trafficking and other circumstances. under that law and hud's own regulations, illegal immigrants are not eligible for these vouchers but yesterday fox business reported that hud recently issued guidance that will have the effect of making it easier for illegal immigrants to obtain these emergency housing vouchers that are supposed to be meant for americans. this happens because, as i understand it, the new guidance waves an existing hud regulation that requires public housing authorities to obtain and verify documentation that an applicant for a housing voucher has a legal immigration status as opposed to an illegal status at the time of application. hud's regulations say this requirement, the one hud is waiving if this report is
accurate, this requirement is meant to, quote, decrease the incidents of fraud, waste and abuse, end quote. hud's guidance may now allow illegal immigrants to obtain these housing vouchers that as i said are meant for american citizens. so secretary fudge, isn't it important that we follow the law and the hud regulation and have processes in place to minimize the risk that these vouchers go to people who are not supposed to have them? >> yes, senator indeed it is. i thank you for the question. i think it is very, very clear from our may 5th public notice detailing the operating requirements for the emergency housing vouchers program. it is clear that in line with current law, eligibility for assistance is limited to united states citizens and those with legal residency. >> but i'm concerned that this
guidance, by waiving this rule that hud has historically used to minimize the risk that illegal immigrants have these vouchers, by waiving this, isn't it going to increase the risk that illegal immigrants will end up obtaining the housing vouchers that are meant for u.s. citizens? >> i do not believe it will do that in any significant way, senator. i think to say that would assume that every single illegal resident wants to come and scam the system. that's not how this works. people who are homeless generally do not have identification, they don't have social security cards et cetera. so we have allowed our housing authorities and part fers to come up with ways to allow them to at least initially report themselves to self-certify and then we verify. so if we find that someone is in the system that should not be, we certainly will take care of it. >> so first of all my question does not in any way apply that
everyone here illegally is looking for these vouchers, there's no such suggestion. i'm simply saying that if there is not an opportunity to screen out people who are not actually eligible, if we don't have that mechanism, then there is likely to be some abuse of this system and it would inevitably take months, at best, to discover and then litigate and adjudicate these cases. i would just urge you to reconsider this. this is hud's own regulation that's being waived is described by hud as serving the purpose of decreasing incidents of fraud, waste and abuse. so i would -- >> i am certainly willing to do so, sir. i'll take another look at it. >> i appreciate that. the other thing is, we have in the administration's so-called infrastructure plan calls for $40 billion more for public housing and, you know, in many -- in many, many cases
public housing has become places where people don't really want to live. there are notorious stories of crime and other public ills and research shows that families that move out of the projects are often able to integrate themselves in communities, lower risks they'll be victims of crime. it seems there are sensible alternatives and, in fact, some of these projects are in such a state of disrepair that the cost of repairing them is greater than the cost it would incur of just providing vouchers for people living in good and decent homes. what's your thought on providing vouchers for low income people? >> i agree with you 100%. the problem is we have people that live in public housing now and we do not have enough housing for the demand. and so, we still have to take care of the people who are in
public housing and that's what this $40 billion will do. for many, many years we have not invested significantly in capital needs of public housing. so what you have is buildings more than 50 years old, the majority of them, that are in different stages of disrepair. so even though i agree that we do need to find ways to move people into other housing in communities with better opportunities we still have to deal with the issue we currently have. and that's what the $40 billion will do. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator toomey. i can be heard now? >> yes. >> thank you, i apologize. i don't know what happened. thank you and thanks for stepping up. for too long, and i talked to both of you about this, i very much appreciate your recognition of this and your interest in solving it. we failed to coordinate our housing and transportation policy, your departments are already working together to make
unprecedented investments in our communities. why do we need to encourage sustainable housing with transit and community investments. >> i would say a perfect example is in our own community. more than a decade ago the city of cleveland recognized that need. so we right now are a community that primarily is a health care community. so the health care industry is the largest employer. what did we do? we put transportation through the heart of our communities to get people to jobs, to get people to the hospitals, to the universities. to the research institutions. and it is clear it has been successful. so i think we're a perfect example of why it's necessary and why it works. >> thank you. secretary buttigieg? >> i think, as you noted, we're both former mayors i think
mayors have to think about transportation and housing in an integrated way because it's how cities are form. but families have to think about them in an integrated way because they hit the same family budget. we know if we can build housing on affordable terms and make it affordable to get to where you need to be, home, work, school, anywhere else you need to go, that eases pressure on a family budget. it's important to think about how these can mutually enforce one another. one reason we're excited about transit oriented development and other ways to link policies. >> thank you. secretary fudge, i -- we had this conversation when i was in your office many years ago when you were mayor of warrensville heights and we've had it since. i don't have to tell you how pervasive lead paint still is in cleveland. one in four children in our city has had elevated lead levels. preventing it now not only
protects kids in the future but also saves health and education costs. will you commit to work with me to make significant investments to eliminate lead paint hazards from homes and any infrastructure package that you and i and the congress and the white house work on? >> yes, i will make that commitment because certainly we can and we must do a better job at dealing with the lead-based paint issue. absolutely, senator happy to work with you on that. >> on the local level what does it mean when u.s. d.o.t. is able to fund a project like bus rapid transit. can you as a former mayor talk about the limits leaders face on average transportation bills we've passed before, what more they could do with a transformative infrastructure package? >> certainly local leaders often have visionary plans for transportation in their
communities but with the resources that have been available, often it's taken heroic creativity to keep things operating the way they are. and i don't think any visionary mayor or local leader wants to simply see things remain in the status quo. often what's been needed really is a new vision. the ability to extend transit to where it hadn't been before. or as you mentioned, more efficient means of transit than were thought of a few decades ago like bus rapid transit. and with the right resources, the kinds of resources contemplated in the americans jobs plan. we can meet the leaders where they are. they've been raising the revenue, doing the work but often these transformational investments won't happen unless there's major federal support. >> last question, secretary fudge, over the past couple months in this committee has heard testimony from witnesses on all sides from richard rothstein to the american
enterprise institute saying restrictive zoning can thwart access opportunity as we try to address the affordable housing crisis. how can hud help communities address restricted zoning and expand access to housing development. >> i'm happy you asked that question. the americans jobs plan does address how we may assist communities in their zoning because we know there is a lot of restrictive zoning that has created a problem and made the cost of home buying and home building even more. and so, what we have done is say to communities we want to give you an incentive and assist you technically with how you look at and engage your communities to change some of the zoning laws that have created historically very difficult problems to address. we know it's a local issue but we believe we can give the kind of assistance that will make people rethink it and talk to them about the entire concept of
moving people into communities, thriving communities that give them opportunities to be more productive citizens, to better train and school their children. we know that it's something that has to be done and the jobs plan really addresses it very, very well. >> thank you, madame secretary. senator warner is recognized from virginia for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman and thank you for holding this hearing. it's great to see both secretary fudge and secretary buttigieg. secretary fudge i want to start a couple questions with you building on some of the conversations we've had in the past. i really appreciate the fact that while you were in congress you were always a strong advocate for community development financial institutions, cdfis. a relatively small business of our financing system but as our colleagues know by definition they're lending to over 60% of their -- lending to low and
moderate income communities. i'm proud of the fact that in the december bill we made a record investment in both mdis, minority depository institutions and cdfis. i want to call out my friend mike kay po, the lead republican on that. we got $12 billion in, 9 billion which go in as capital going into cdfis. that will basically on a conservative basis add $90 billion of ongoing lending capacity. when we think about the affordable housing shortages, we've got to both get at the supply but also the ability for folks to acquire some of these units and secretary fudge can you talk about the critical role that continuing to invest in cdfis can have as a way to address some of the housing shortages we have? >> thank you, very much senator.
and thank you for our conversations that we've had. they've been quite instructive and i think quite helpful for me as well and i hope for you. what we notice, and i'll tell you a perfect example. what we noticed when the house and senate decided to do the ppp, we realized then that as we could see what was happening, that the big banks, the big institutions were getting all the resources. and that is why people of color, small businesses, et cetera, were not getting resources because they deal with people like cdfis and small lending institutions. so when you start to send resources to those kinds of institutions you reach the people of highest need. that's why it's important to fund cdfis and small community banks because the access and the understanding culturally as well as area wide is so much better with these institutions. so i think there's something
that we must continue to work with because they are the people who deal with the smaller loans that help people with tech nick cal assistance and other things when it comes to home buying. they are the people who drive low income communities. so i think that it is an absolute necessity that we continue to fund and support cdfis and small banks. >> thank you. i think there are a number of our community banks who want to try to do more in this space. they may need regulatory forbearance but i look forward to working with you and the committee on this. i want to get one question in to secretary buttigieg but i want to raise an issue that i talked with you about secretary fudge and i mentioned to the chairman and i'm working with the administration on, you know, we all know covid honestly exacerbated this, the wealth gap in this country, wealth gap between white families, black families run differential almost
as large in terms of latino families and a lot of that is due to the fact that black and brown families do not have access to home ownership in similar levels. we are working on a program, mr. chairman, where we are looking at an initiative that would help all first generation home buyers. so this would not be just black and brown, it would be white as well. although data would end up being two thirds black and brown communities. i won't get into all the details here but with a slight interest rate subsidy we could create, through jenny may, a product that would allow a family, if they could meet a traditional mortgage payment create a 20-year mortgage product that would have the payment based upon a 30-year kind of rate, doing this and trust me on the math at this point i'll have to point it out to everybody that it would actually double wealth
creation records. i really look forward, ten years you get twice as much wealth on a 20 year mortgage. i'm down to 15 seconds. i want to compliment you secretary buttigieg, you met with front line workers from a mada and the general manager there, 40% of the federal workforce travels on metro. we have an important federal component there. i'm sure chris van hollen will ask you a question on that, but i wanted to get my two cents in if before my time ran out. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator warner. senator haggerty is next if he's here. if not, senator moran. senator haggerty is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you ranking member brown. secretary fudge, secretary buttigieg thank you for being here today. i appreciate that.
i'd like to turn to my home state if i could, tennessee. we have some of the best roads and bridges in america in tennessee. we're also physically well managed states. we're one of the few states that actually finance our transportation projects without using debt financing we pay as we go on this. i think, secretary buttigieg you're aware of this, our interstate 40 bridge that connects tennessee and arkansas across the mississippi river nine days ago it was discovered it has a severe fracture in the structural frame, the support for that bridge. i've been in touch with state and local officials with the tennessee department of transportation, with barge operators in the private sector. my team has been working with the coast guard who has jurisdiction over the mississippi river, and the mississippi is middle america's super highway for transportation and commerce. and on saturday, i sent a letter to president biden about the
crisis and copied you, secretary buttigieg and i want to thank you, because as a result of that letter i saw that this morning the federal highway administration is sending a team to memphis post haste. i plaud you for making this a top priority, it's delayed fuel supplies, agricultural products, many commodities that reach through the mississippi river and caused tremendous delays in traffic. this is affecting real people, their livelihoods, their ability to get to where they need to go. it's impacting commerce at so many levels. so i want to thank you for the effort that you put in, the responsiveness to my letter and to our conversation, secretary buttigieg to prioritize this for your department. i look forward to continuing to work with your department to make sure that the situation in memphis and arkansas is resolved as quickly as possible. i hope that the administration
and my democratic colleagues are serious about working in a bipartisan way to solve our infrastructure problems. the i-40 bridge we're talking about here isn't the only problem and this bridge shouldn't require legislation or time consuming debate about whether government care is infrastructure or not. longer term investment in real infrastructure, our roads, bridges, tunnels, water ways, ports, rail, power band is needed. but to pay for it by raising taxes on american workers, job creaors as we're poised to emerge from a pandemic driven recession is the opposite of what we need. we should get private capital, get off the sidelines and reduce rm paperwork, ridiculous regulatory cost and unnecessary delays. and we have to ensure that anything we do reaches to the most rural areas of our country like my home state of tennessee. secretary buttigieg, i'd like to
turn my first question to you opinion you've had past private sector experience as a management consultant. i'm sure you looked at ways with your clients to improve operations. i'm sure you looked at private improve your operations. i'm sure you looked at private financing, too, and ways to incentivize your capital. you have the build america bureau. the build america bureau's mission has private activity bonds, railroad rehabilitation and improvement financing, among other programs. as we look at infrastructure and think about infrastructure going forward, secretary, i wanted to get your comments and thoughts on the types of process improvements, the types of bureaucratic regulatory changes that could be made that could help accelerate development of infrastructure for us. >> thank you, senator, and first of all, let me state my appreciation with the
collaboration of your office and others for the i-40 bridge matter. to get to your question, we believe there are a lot of opportunities for us to get more bang for a taxpayer buck through process improvements, something i encounters even as a mayor, seeing all the steps involved in permitting, and have challenged our team to identify ways that we can find where there may be duplication or there might be a way to meet the intent of the law which fewer steps were a simpler and more predictable process. i also appreciate your mentioning private activity bonds, one example among others you mentioned where we do see ways to mobilize private capital. we're at just about our congressional cap right now, and while it's more appropriate to some uses than others, while, of course, many of these other financing options really expect or require that there be an associated revenue train, we do think there is a lot more
potential and i we will kochl opportunities to work with you on building on successes like the build america bureau here at the department. >> i look forward to working on that with you and your team, secretary. thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> the senator from new jersey is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. good morning to both our secretaries. it's good to be with you. secretary buttigieg, you and i have discussed the gateway project, a series of projects including the porter north bridge and the new hudson river tunnels in a region that would modernize the 10-mill segment of track that is the lynchpin of the northeast corridor, a region of the country that generates 20% of gdp for the entire nation. i appreciate that the president and your department have consistently highlighted the importance of gateway, and i had the pleasure of speaking to fernandes, the president's nominee to be the fta
administrator about the project in her hearing last week. she committed to working with stakeholders to move the tunnel project through the capital investment grants program process, and i would like to ask for a similar commitment from you. would you commit to working with the project sponsors and delegations in the coming months to get the gateway project done? >> thank you for the question, and yes, you have our commitment to work with your office, other members of the delegations and the project sponsors on this. this is an example of a project that may be located in one region but is so critical that you would feel it anywhere in the country if there were to be, for example, a failure in one of these critical tunnels. so we're continuing to see this move along and are committed to working with you to see it go forward. >> thank you, mr. secretary, i appreciate your appreciation of what the project means. the department has previously said that we should see the environmental reviews for the project by the end of may after
years of delay by the trump administration. do you know if we're still on track to see that process move forward this month? >> we're hopeful to see that move forward soon, and right now i think the main area where the fta and i think also fra have been in touch with the project sponsors have been on the financing plan. as that information comes together, i am hopeful we can move this along as planned. >> okay. a good infrastructure plan not only creates good jobs but also takes into account how infrastructure affects access to good jobs. secretary fudge, is there a lack of access to good jobs? >> i just spent some time in your state, senator, and when we don't have people housed properly or have them in a position where they have access to housing or to good jobs or schools, yes, it is a major
issue. >> thank you. low-income communities then have the additional burden of disproportionately lacking access to transit which could connect communities to jobs. secretary buttigieg, does the lack of transit also limit people to good jobs? >> people need to physically be able to get to where the opportunity is, and if they lack options to get there, that's an economic barrier. >> therefore, wouldn't you say transportation access should be a major consideration when designing affordable housing policy? >> absolutely. >> yes, we think so. >> i agree. and that's why i'm reintroducing the livable communities act which would create a grand program to fund coordinated development of affordable housing and transit so that we can better expand access for economic opportunities. i look forward to hopefully
working with both of you. the fact you're both here together, which is not the normal course of events, testifying is also indicative that both of you will be able to work together because of the nexus between transportation and housing. madam secretary, there is a severe nationwide shortage of affordable senior housing. according to the urban institute of the 6.1 million new housing formations over the next 20 years, 80% of them will be senior households. i know what it means to seniors in my state, which is a high-cost state. what does this significant increase in the senior household mean for our senior public and assisted housing capacity and the senior housing needs that congress should prepare for? >> senator, i'm so glad you asked that question, because people, i think, forget that significant numbers of people who live in public housing are senior citizens. we know that we do not have in
place the infrastructure to allow seniors over the next few years to age in place. that is one of the reasons why the jobs plan talks about how we take over our seniors and puts resources in the 202 plan. i think it is really important that we start to address this now as we know the senior population is just going to continue to increase. i thank you for asking the question as something we must address. >> this is where our program like our trusted section 202 program is really important. we look forward to working with you, and with you, mr. secretary, on the transit side of our efforts on the development of our package. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator. senator kennedy is recognized from louisiana for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. can you hear me okay? >> yes. >> yes, senator. >> thank you. i want to thank our two
secretaries for being here today. i know you're busy. secretary fudg -- >> i'm having trouble hearing you. >> can you hear me now? >> i can hear you better, yes, sir. >> secretary fudge, louisiana, as you probably know, was hit by two massive hurricanes last year. the focal point was southwest louisiana but the hurricanes were devastating central louisiana to northeast louisiana. with respect to block grant disaster assistance, my governor who happens to be a democrat and i and our entire congressional delegation have repeatedly talked to the white house about getting an answer to our request for the disaster relief.
we have asked, we have begged, we have cajoled, we've sent fruit baskets. we haven't sent over a personal pan pizza yet, but we're thinking about doing that to the white house. we just want an answer. can you help me get an answer? >> senator, it's my understanding there was an answer sent to you by owen b. on behalf of the president. is there something further you would like me to do? i'm happy to do it. >> tell me what the answer was, because i haven't heard. i haven't been able to find anybody to give me an answer with a search party. i can't find them with google. if there's an answer, maybe you could tell me right now. i would really be grateful. >> basically i have the letter in front of me addressed to you from the acting director shalonna young --
>> can you tell me what it says? >> yes. basically what it says -- certainly. let me just say this first, senator, that i'm very, very sorry about what has happened, especially even with the rains of this past week. >> if the letter says yes, all is forgiven. can you tell me if the letter says yes? >> no. what the letter says, and what i'm saying as well, is we are more than willing to support what is happening, but congress needs to make that decision. whatever decision congress makes, we are going to be supportive of. >> as you know, customarily the way this works, the white house has to send a request to congress. has the president decided to send over that request, and if so, do you know when we'll get it? >> no, but i can ask. but i would say this, senator. just by my own time in the house, i voted for many such pieces of legislation, and all of it did not start with the white house. >> well, we do things a little
differently in the senate. i'm not saying that the house is wrong, you probably do it better than we do. but my colleagues normally will not consider anything until they know where the white house is. >> i will find out, sir, because i think we need to do as much as we possibly can. >> thank you for that, madam secretary. let me make sure i understand. you personally, on behalf of hud, are supportive of asking congress to give us the release. is that right? >> personally, yes, but as you say, that's not my decision to make. >> have you talked to anyone at the white house about our request? >> i have not, but i will make sure i do it right away. >> okay. can you tell me who you'll talk to? >> i will talk to omb where this started, and ultimately they are the people responding on behalf of the president and the white house. i will call director young
today. >> can you tell me when we'll get an answer? >> i'm going to call today. i don't know when that answer will be, but as soon as i get an answer, i will make sure you get it right away. >> okay. so what i'm hearing from you is, despite the letter, the white house has not said yes. or am i mistaken? >> i don't know, sir, because i have not been that involved in it. it goes to the office of omb, but i will make sure i find out the status. that i will do. >> once you get an answer, my people deserve an answer. >> i will. >> this has gone on -- this has been like rope-a-dope. this has gone on, and in order for us to get it done in the congress, we're going to have to have a request by the president, we all know that. there's just been too much dodge and bob in a week.
i'm a pretty simple guy. i like breakfast food and i like straight answers. if you can just ask the white house to give me a straight answer, i will be eternally grateful and i will send you a fruit basket. >> i will ask them. a straight question to answer. >> thank you very much. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator kennedy. the next three senators are senator tester, then senator murray and senator warner. i have to duck out and answer a question about climate. senator tester for five minutes, and if you will turn it to senator moran and then senator warner. >> senator moran always has a book on his shoulder. there are many challenges across the country for folks trying to access housing. it's true in ohio, as well as
pennsylvania, certainly true in montana. it's true in our cities and towns, but it's also true in rural areas. some would call frontier areas examine on tribal lands where oftentimes communities need more specific help to make federal programs work or access the resources that are available. so, secretary fudge, how would hud ensure that new or additional housing resources make it into those rural/frontier and tribal communities? >> senator, thank you so much, and thank you, as always, for the discussions we've had about this over the last few months. i appreciate your insight and input. the jobs plan does specifically set aside resources for indian country and for rural communities. as you know, hud's mission is to take care of housing everywhere. we do not differentiate between urban and rural, and we understand very much the needs of rural communities as well where we talk about building supportive infrastructure and climate resilience and community
development. we know that it takes a whole of government to make these things happen. so between the work that we do at hud, the work that's done at usda, we are very confident that with the jobs plan, we can really make a significant increase and a significant down payment and make clear that we believe in the expansion at empowering of communities, especially rural communities. >> that's good. i mean, i just think it's really important because they don't have the resources, they don't have the planners, they don't have the ability to get these funds easily, and as pointed out by senator menendez, it's important in those communities, too. because, quite frankly, there is a shortage of housing all across the country. there is significant need, but there are examples of successful existing programs that help ease the shortage when these programs
are utilized. there are tax credits that can be leveraged when available and examples of local communities enhancing their resources through public private partnerships. so, secretary fudge, how can we ensure that federal resources for housing are fully utilized to get assistance to as many people and as many communities as possible? >> senator, you know there for a long time, we've only had truly, in terms of the private part, we've had the low-income tax credits which have been very, very helpful. but in the jobs plan, there is another tax credit, the neighborhood homes investment tax credit, which would also help us leverage more public resources. and then, of course, there are all the other programs that hud can assist with where we have the native american block grants and the housing block grants. i think if you pull all of these things together, you're going to find the resources to make not only the rural communities and,
of course, native communities expand their housing options. we are able to build new housing with the resources that have been put into the jobs plan. as well we can talk about really then starting to talk about resilient communities, which we know that we can do. but the jobs plan makes sure that all of those resources are there together with home and other programs from hud. i think we can make it happen. >> okay. secretary buttigieg, i want to talk to you a little about the charging stations. i think it's really important we have -- we make the transition, and i think it's going to happen regardless. it could happen quicker if we're a little more aggressive. and i think the charging stations are part of it. my question to you is -- and build back better. how is this going to work? is this a revolving loan fund? is the public going to build charging stations or are we going to reach out to businesses who want to put charging
stations at grocery stores, wherever it may be? >> thank you, senator, it's a very important question, and it's one of policy design based on some of the geographies we're looking at. the economics of installing a charging station may pencil out in, for example, a luxury apartment building in the middle of a city such that no assistance is required at all. on the other end of the spectrum, there are spread-out rural areas where there may not be a return unless there is some kind of support. i wouldn't say that the vision is that all charging stations in the country or even most of them or any of them need to be owned and operated by the federal government. this is a great opportunity for leverage and to make sure that the dollars are being put to use in a way that maximizes the availability. of course, our support is not just in financing, the
establishment or construction of the stations, there are also alternate fuel stations going on which they don't partner with the department of energy. we need to make sure across our network there are charging stations, whether the network would provide them or not on anxiety doesn't hold americans back from the optimal needs. >> i would really hope when it comes to roads and bridges infrastructure that we continue to rely on existing formulas. if we start screwing around with that, it gets pretty dicey pretty quick. thank you. senator moran? >> chairman, thank you. senator tester, over my right shoulder is another book you might recognize as well, so i am now as politically correct as i can be in this setting. secretary buttigieg, thank you for joining us. you, too, madam secretary. i'm pleased to have the opportunity to visit with you this morning, but i'm going to
focus on the department of transportation. mr. secretary, let me raise two topics with you. covid-19 had, as you know, a devastating impact on the airline industry and congress and the administration responded in a number of ways to help repair the damage that was done by lack of commercial air travel. one of the industries that was also affected by that circumstance is the manufacturing sector of which kansas is one of the prime places in which aviation manufacturing occurred. with the help of senator warner from this committee and senator cantwell, the chairman of the commerce committee, we were successful at having passed legislation, the aviation manufacturing jobs protection program. one of the discussions is about who should be responsible for implementing that program, and the conclusion was the u.s. departmentof transportation.
so in your realm of responsibilities, you have implementation of this legislation. it's important to me. i introduced and sponsored the legislation that became an amendment to the covid relief package. i would ask you -- i mean, the department has published information on steps eligible businesses need to take prior to submitting an application, but there's not more definitive instructions than that. your department has been kind to me. i intend to have a forum in wichita or at least in kansas, and your team has volunteered once they know more to be a participant in that program trying to explain to aviation manufacturers what the program is, how they can take advantage of it and how we can protect our work force in aviation. do you have any ideas at this point about the time frame in which these funds will become eligible and when i should be looking at scheduling and asking
your staff to join me to try to explain it to a group of businesses and employees that are significantly interested? >> yes, thank you. we're moving quickly to make sure this is implemented success successfully, accountably. as you pointed out, the impact on aviation is probably more on the manufacturers, as well as dollars sent through several mechanisms, we want to make sure we get it right. i can tell you the d.o.t.'s most senior leadership is heavily engaged. we have advised every relevant part of the department to make sure we're taking the right steps. to your question, i hope to have an application process fully defined and out for applications later on this summer and would welcome that opportunity for a d.o.t. personnel to be there to help explain it to potential
applicants. >> thank you for your obvious knowledge and awareness of this program and presumably seemingly -- seemingly is a better word -- involved on a personal level as secretary. and thank you to your staff for helping me explain what opportunities exist. let me turn to a renewable energy question in regard to transit. one of the things i think has happened is with the programs -- public transit programs that are attempting to accelerate the transition of our bus fleets from diesel and gasoline to cleaner energy alternatives, it seems to me that these programs have overwhelmingly favored certain renewable fuels, and by that i think those words mean electric. to the diminution of other cleaner fuels such as renewable natural gas or natural gas.
as a result, those renewable fuels, particularly renewable natural gas make a lot of sense. i don't think they're going through the process to seat the funds because of what i think may be a perceived or real bias or prejudice one way or the other. i would ask that you take a look at being more balanced in that view. there are buses, and i think i'm particularly probably talking about rural communities in which renewable natural gas is a viable and valuable and environmentally sound alternative to electric vehicles. i would ask you to enable the transit agencies to pursue the cleanest available vehicles that suit the needs of the fleet and the public transit infrastructure. it is better to get us in a position using renewable natural gas or natural gas to reduce emissions than those buses
continuing in their current state without the federal support because they are not converting to electric. and there are some issues with electric, as senator tester was saying, about the charging stations, also where the important elements that make up batteries come from outside the united states. there are issues with this. i'm just looking to you to commit that there is a place that the department of transportation should recognize for renewable natural gas and natural gas. >> thank you. we certainly recognize the role for natural gas vehicles that are producing fewer emissions than, for example, a diesel vehicle. part of the issue, of course, is in a program that is designed to minimize emissions, a vehicle with zero tailpipe emissions will typically be competitive. sometimes what's right in one region may be different than another or there may be different resources available to different transit authorities. we'll continue to try to tailor what we're doing so it makes sense on the ground.
>> i appreciate that. secretary, you know what's viable in your largest city in indiana or my largest city in kansas may not be the most practical or viable solution in a rural community of several hundred or several thousand people. we sometimes think of transit as being the large city's way of moving people. but as you know, in our states, it affects lots of seniors and disabled individuals and getting to the doctor and getting to the grocery store in ways that are different than what a city mass transit program would look like. >> absolutely agree. >> thank you, senator moran. senator warner is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. senator fudge, i know you are looking to increase the number of affordable units available to families, but those homes have to be built somewhere, and too many communities around the country, restrictive zoning laws
that were born out of racial segregation prevent new affordable housing units from being built. using exclusionary zoning from keeping families, usually lower income families and families in certain neighborhoods, is wrong. exclusive practices drive up the cost of housing for everyone and reduce the amount of available land. so, secretary fudge, at your confirmation hearing, you told this committee that it is important that we get rid of the notion of not in my backyard. how does that not in my backyard approach impede efforts to address the affordable housing crisis? >> first off, senator, thank you for our ongoing conversations on this. it limits where we can build housing. if you have restrictive zoning
ordinances, there are two things that happen or can happen. one is that where there is available land, you cannot build -- or the zoning is so onerous that it causes you money to build. maybe they put all kinds of restrictions on it that keeps you from buying the property. or they said to people in our communities, we don't want you living in our neighborhood if you're low income or if you're a person of color. what we have found is that these laws have been around so very long that the jobs plan now gives us the opportunity to go into communities with some incentives to assist them in how we discuss it, how we could give them the kind of technical assistance to change it, how we engage communities so that we can have a better narrative about why we should allow new housing and housing that is not restrictive in communities that historically have prevented us from building. >> right. so let me follow up on that. how would incentives help?
aren't these changes that the federal government can make on their own to get these houses built, or why do you need these incentives? >> a lot of the zoning laws are local ordinances, many of which we cannot change as a federal government. we can talk about discrimination overall, we can talk about civil rights overall, but we cannot just go into a community and change the zoning or planning ordinances. that's why we want to engage communities in the technical assistance to talk about how they can change them. maybe we can come to some agreement to make them not as restrictive and not as costly. >> i completely agree with the direction you're going here. my housing act includes a $10 million housing grant program that would provide funding so that local governments can use it to build things like parks or schools if they are actively
removing unnecessary barriers to building affordable units in their communities. eligible reforms would include things like changing bans on multi-family construction, revising minimum lot size requirements or passing inclusionary zoning ordinances. so let me ask, secretary fudge, could this kind of grant program make a difference in pushing communities to expand the supply of affordable housing? >> this is something i would like to talk to you more about, because until we get to that point that we could include some of the things you're talking about, we're going to forever have people locked out of communities of opportunity, giving the opportunity to go to better schools, better jobs and better wealth. i would like us to continue that
conversation. >> i very much want to work with you on this. i was so glad to see president biden call for the elimination of exclusionary zoning and to end harmful land use policies as part of his american jobs plan. now i've got a proposal ready to go on this. taking on our affordable housing crisis requires a comprehensive strategy, and reducing exclusionary zoning and land use restrictions has to be a part of this. thank you, secretary fudge, and thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator warren. senator cortez is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for the great work you are doing. let me start off with secretary buttigieg. i had the pleasure of speaking with senator hernandez about the
capital grant sponsors, particularly in my state the regional transportation commission in washoe county to be able to utilize its project cost savings further enhancing their specific project corridors. i'm going to include for the record a question on whether the department will reward project sponsors who are good stewards of taxpayer dollars that come in on time and under budget with the ability to repurpose those funds to other important elements of an existing federally funded project within their community. so i'm not going to -- i am going to submit that for the record. i do want to talk to you about smart communities. i know that president biden included a call for building on, really, an obama-era smart cities challenge program with a billion dollars annually in his infrastructure proposal. can you talk to me about why this is important? why are smart communities important? why this proposal? >> thank you. let me mention about the structure of the program and the substance of the program.
i was mayor when the smart cities challenge came out and saw the impact it had even on cities like mine that weren't even participating in the competition. it stimulated a race to the top and encouraged local communities to do what they do best which is innovate. that kind of structure with an emphasis on sharing ideas and an emphasis on working directly with local communities, we think, was very powerful and something we can build on. in terms of the substance of the division, it's really about making sure we future-proof our investments and take advantage of the extraordinary change that is coming to transportation and certainly will be across the 2020s. that change could be enormously empowering and beneficial on everything from climate to equity to job creation, but it won't be that way on its own. that's why we have to have a lot of intention and good policies behind it and, of course, resources which is why you see it reflected in the president's vision. >> thank you, and i couldn't agree more. and i do agree that the incentive isn't so important. that's why when i first got here
to the senate, i introduced the moving first act to bring back and expand the obama-era smart cities challenge. i think it is so important that this incentive is out there. we've seen the benefits and the opportunities we have to embrace this technology for our communities. i will tell you my bill is endorsed by the league of cities and the american society of civil engineers, so i look forward to working with the administration. i think this is a great, great opportunity here for our communities. but let's talk about the communities, and i only have so much time. secretary fudge, i couldn't agree more. you both know this better than anyone. everything that we are working on, particularly the nexus between affordable housing, transit and employment starts at the local level with zoning. zoning, zoning, zoning, right? that's the key to all of this. and that's why at the federal level we may incentivize, we may try to get dollars and resources out there, but it really starts
with that initial planning, urban planning and rural planning and the zoning. and that's why it was important for me to introduce the better plan act. now, i absolutely support what senator menendez is doing with his legislation on livable communities. the better plan act that i've introduced is really compatible with what we're trying to do here, which is enhancing that coordination between metropolitan planning organizations, local land use agencies and housing stakeholders to align transportation plans with our local housing goals as well as ensuring that we're connecting them with those important employment centers. secretary fudge, can you talk a little bit about that nexus and why it is so important, and why we have to engage local communities in this if we're really going to get it right? >> first off, let me just thank you for your continued focus on affordable housing. in our conversations, i've been so very pleased to know of all of the things that you are
working on that i believe are going to be helpful. but as you talk about -- and your state probably is the perfect example. if we cannot get people to jobs because they live in communities that are so isolated or so difficult to move people from good jobs to home, then it is a problem whether it be a teacher, a firefighter or anybody else. i think we have to make sure that we understand that both of them are really infrastructure, but when you talk about building roads and bridges, you have to connect them to something. so why can we not connect them in a way that is beneficial to the people we represent, all of us. i represent people who need housing, need public housing, low-income people. they have to rely on us to make sure that we plan appropriately, work together to make sure that what we are doing is going to be beneficial to them in the long run. and that means we have to have
transportation that is smart, transportation that is accessible to where people live and work. >> that's right. and let me add, and i know my time is up, but one other thing. in my state they're working 24 hours, right? so the transit, that connectivity, that opportunity has to be able to everyone at all times, particularly if they're working a graveyard shift, right, or a late shift or a day shift, whatever that may be. it is so important that we bring those -- that nexus together for everybody and meet their needs where they are, so thank you. >> thank you, senator. senator scott is recognize ford five minutes. >> as you know, a number of my constituents were affected by the hack of the colonial pipeline earlier this month. the estimate is about 40% of the gas stations in south carolina were without gas because of that
hack. that means that legal people and their lives are strained by the lack of access to gas. i know talking to some of my constituents in spartanburg and greenville, they were waiting an hour in the line to try to figure out how to get gas in their cars to take their kids to school or go to the grocery store. you called the colonial pipeline hack a wake-up call for the country's cybersecurity vulnerability. i actually agree with that statement wholeheartedly. i think there is another wake-up call we are seeing as well, and i believe secretary jennifer granholm said it best last week when she admitted pipelines are the best way to transport fuel. that has to be a wake-up call for the administration that didn't condition with the excel pipeline within the first few weeks of the administration. do you agree with the secretary of energy when she says
pipelines are the best way to transport fuel? >> of course it depends on the context. nobody is proposing we establish a pipeline that goes directly to every gas station or every community in the country. but for certain -- >> let me give you more context, then. do you think that the important comments by the secretary of energy as it relates to transporting fuel through a pipeline is important enough for us to revisit the xl pipeline project, or does that statement not include the xl pipeline? >> in my view it does not support any changes to the administration's view on the xl pipeline. it's certainly the case that over certain long distances in certain contexts, it makes sense to add pipelines. after all, one of the things our department is very proud of is the work we do through the pipeline and hazardous material safety administration to make
sure miles of the pipeline are safe. at the same time, the president is keeping his commitment that he made during the campaign to guide any conversation about the pipeline about climate responsibility somewhere else what makes sense for our economy in the long term. >> according to many experts i have read, the xl pipeline, stopping that project means you're going to carry that energy over the rail which actually increases our carbon footprint, not decreases our carbon footprint. so by not having a pipeline, we're actually doing more harm to the environment and not less harm. that is a confusing position, but i'm glad to see there is an inconsistency between the two secretaries. let me move to hud and ask a question of my friend secretary fudge as it relates to manufacturing and housing. as you may recall, back in 2019, we passed a bipartisan
legislation that allowed for more manufacturing housing to be a part of the strategy that we used to help home ownership become more affordable for people throughout the country. when would you expect hud to issue guidance for the inclusion of manufacturing housing when states and local governments consolidate the plans? >> it's good to see you, senator, and i'm glad for your concern about housing. the guidelines of 2019, i think, got caught up in all the things going along with covid, but we believe we will have something by the end of this year. we know we're a little bit behind, but as i said, i think in 2019 covid and trying to get the cares act and other funding out might have delayed it, but we are working on it as we speak, sir. >> as you might imagine, my state has a disproportionate share of the manufactured
housing, and we have endured our share of natural disasters, and i would say the current state of manufacturing housing has transformed positively. where you have a stronger home, you have a more resilient home than ever imagined, so whatever we can do to hit accelerate on that i believe will be helpful to those folks who are on the bubble, so to speak. they can be a homeowner or not be a homeowner depending on how accessible manufactured housing is. >> i'm a strong proponent as well, senator. we'll get right on it. >> yes, ma'am. thank you. >> thank you, senator scott. senator van holland of maryland is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chair. thank you, secretary, for your leadership and i expect the jobs plan to see overall improvements of affordable housing and to
address critical zoning practices. i was also happy to see a reference there to continue with affordable housing vouchers. senator young and i have introduced a bipartisan bill calling for the creation of 500,000 family stability and opportunity vouchers. the senator for budget policies has said any plan for providing housing for the lowest income households has to include an expansion of the voucher program, and this is designed to provide wraparound services to families, and there's been a proven way to lift people out of poverty. i mentioned this to you before, we're going to introduce it again soon. what i want to ask today is just a commitment to you to get back to me and to senator young as to whether or not the biden administration will fully endorse this proposal. that's my request today. >> the answer is, yes, i will
get back to you. happy to do it, sir. >> thank you. and speaking of discrimination, one of the most insidious forms of discrimination is landlords denying families, you know, rent based on source of income. and we've got to address that, i believe, in this legislation. nobody should be denied access to housing because they're relying on an affordable housing voucher. secretary buttigieg, i applaud the inclusion of the $20 million in the american jobs plan to help reconnect communities thavsh split by prior federal housing investments. i was in baltimore with the mayor this week at the site of what we call the highway to nowhere, 1.5 miles of highway that was stopped because people
in the better part of town succeeded at stopping it, but not before 1.5 miles of highway were built that split an african-american community and neighborhoods. we've got to heal these wounds, bring the community together. it's a perfect example of why those funds need to be used. i want to ask you now about the transportation funding formula for a second. because if a state like the state of maryland wants to build a highway, we just use our federal formula funds and we go ahead. we get 80% federal funding. we want to invest in a transit line, a new start, we need to apply for a grant, we need to get approval from the fta, and then at most we get 60% federal match, and currently there is no new start with a full funding grant agreement of more than 50%
federal funds. clearly, if you're a state, and you want your dollars to travel faster, the federal government is now incentivizing highways over transit. can you agree we should change this and commit to work on changing this as part of the american jobs plan? >> well, one thing i would point to is that the once in a lifetime investments that are contained in the american jobs plan roll out on a different basis. you know, you saw the president's vision include $85 billion for public transit and transit-related investments. not that we don't care about highways, roads and bridges. indeed, there is over 100 billion committed to that purpose, but we're trying to base it off where the needs actually are and that's why you'll see that different ratio encapsulated for the president's vision for that major investment we need to make for the future. >> got it. i want to work with you on what the cost share is for the states, because right now in our ongoing programs, there is a
huge incentive to go for a highway investment rather than a transit investment. and that discourages states from using their dollars for transit, even when that makes the most sense because the federal dollar travels faster on the highway than on transit. briefly, i know you agree that building federal roads and infrastructure, we should build it to last, and if it's in a federal flood plane or another area that has contrast, we need to build with resilience. the gao has said that's a good way to save taxpayer dollars. the trump administration tanked it. president obama -- excuse me, president biden indicated he was going to reinstate this really in the first week, but that has not happened. can you speak to this and just
commit to moving forward on this commonsense proposal? >> with regard to that standard specifically, i'll look into that and see if we can get more information on where it stands. more generally, to your point, this is why resilience is such a focus with the jobs plan. there is a commonsense case to be made if, let's say a road washes out, and climate change effects suggest it will wash out next year if we put it back just the way it was, shouldn't our policy be able to tell a difference? that's part of what we mean when we say build back better. >> i see that. mr. secretary, this is one thing you could do today that would help change that going forward before we even have to enact legislation. i really encourage you to do that and hope you can get back to me on that. thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator tillis for north carolina is recognized for five
minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman, secretary buttigieg and secretary fudge. congratulations on your confirmations. secretary buttigieg, i want to thank you for the courtesy call before you went to north carolina. i want to know generally what you're hearing as you travel across the country, but when you were in north carolina, what takeaways were there in terms of the needs and priorities in the state? >> one thing i saw was just how rightly proud north carolinans are about some of the visionary work that's been done to support and expand options in communities that are growing. with growth come a lot of challenges. they're good challenges to have but still require a forward-looking transportation policy. i also had the chance to see some of the extraordinary research that is going on. some of it is supported with federal and state transportation dollars, things that i could go on about for hours but i promised not to. in terms of, for example,
optimizing pavement which might not seem like a sizzling topic of great interest but just a little difference in making pavement last longer in harsh weather could make a big difference. it was a constructive trip and i look forward to keeping in touch on progress that's being made there. >> thank you. i'm kind of curious, speaking with legislative leaders and the governor, one of the topics that's come up in north carolina, i'm curious if it's something we're hearing across the country is that with the billions of dollars that are down in the states and they're looking at flexibility ways to use it, have you heard much in the way of trying to use some of the relief funds that right now are restricted from transportation projects to potentially -- i think california has about a $70 billion surplus, for example, and looking at maybe repurposing some of that for infrastructure
projects? >> so i think every state and local government that's gotten support is assessing how best to put it to use. i do want to emphasize, of course, we want to make sure there is the right kind of flexibility for those dollars to be well spent but would also flag the risk of spending the same dollar twice, so to speak, in terms of imagining that a dollar is unspent simply because it takes longer to get committed. to give you an example, you can imagine the transit authority that sees that their ridership went down 90% or 80% in 2020. now they see it back maybe at 50%. might still be down 30% next year. you won't see some of those dollars designed to keep them afloat obligated until next year. but that was part of the congressional intent, so i just want to note that there was a multi-year vision for how these dollars would move. >> maybe back as a baseline question, we've got various views around washington now
about what defines infrastructure and your role as secretary. how do you define infrastructure? >> well, i view infrastructure as the foundation that makes it possible for americans to live a life of their choosing. that can include the transportation infrastructure that makes it possible for you to get to work or school, it could include the internet infrastructure that makes it possible for you to communicate with work or school whether you're physically moving around or not. we in the administration also believe that tearing down a barrier in the form of, let's say, unaffordable elder care or child care mounts to the type of child care structure that helps people work. there are different views of how we define these things. my hope is even if we agree to disagree on a philosophical question of what to call something, that we'll come to an agreement for the people. >> just on that note, i agree with your first part of the
assessment of infrastructure which i think has been defined that way. it's not that i'm necessarily opposed to some of the other initiatives that were casting a wider net, but i think most of the american people when they think about infrastructure, they think about the things that are in your lane and the department of transportation and would like to have a separate discussion about the efficacy, the affordability and the long-term viability of those other programs. just really quickly, and this is for secretary fudge and secretary buttigieg. i feel like davis bacon, you know, many say is an artifact from the jim crow area that was preventing minorities to get into construction work, now we're using it maybe a little bit differently. the concern i have is if we're going to impose these higher labor costs on infrastructure projects, on affordable housing projects, aren't we really
discounting the impact that we can have with the use of the federal taxpayers' money? and, secretary fudge, we can go to you first? >> i really don't think that we are. that's why we're putting in place things that the jobs plan will help us to bridge the gap for affordable housing, what it cost to build it, what people can pay for it. if you look at the jobs plan in its totality, you will see that these issues have actually been addressed within the bill. >> i'm just saying the cost of labor in these construction projects can nearly double the cost of labor. so i'm having a hard time getting my head around how that's consistent with trying to produce more access to affordable housing. but my time has expired. we'll take this up at the committee. thank you very much. thank you, mr. chair. >> thank you, senator tillis. the senator from minnesota, senator smith, is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, chair brown. and welcome, secretary fudge and
secretary buttigieg. it's great to be with you virtually. i'm going to try to get to two questions, if i can, for both of you. the first question has to do with this. as we get ready, i hope, to be able to be making bold and transitional developments in infrastructure, we need to focus on how the benefits of those investments and the jobs that they create are broadly shared. i think that we can all acknowledge that in the past, communities of color and low-income communities have often not seen the jobs that were created by federal and state infrastructure investments. weaver seen this story unfold over and over again in roads and bridge construction but also in public housing construction and maintenance, too. so i think now in this moment we have an opportunity to change this, but it is going to take a clear strategy and intention. so that's what my question is for you. how do you intend to work on this issue in your agency so that we can make sure that communities of color and
low-income communities are benefitting from the job opportunities that are created by these significant infrastructure investments? maybe i'll start with secretary buttigieg. >> thank you. we share this priority. we think it's very important, both in terms of the communities that benefit from the overall asset that might be added in the form of a transit line or a bridge or road or whatever it may be. but also those who get to participate in the business opportunities that are created. the ownership of the businesses and certainly the workers. yesterday with secretary walsh, mayor bowser here in washington and others, we visit the work site of the frederick douglas bridge which crosses the river at anacostia. they had effectively used local hire and local project agreements to make sure that the diverse local community was reflected on the work site. i think continuing to partner with local agencies and authorities, with labor organizations and everybody else who has a stake in this really
needs to remain a priority so that we create the most opportunity we can for including or especially for those who have been excluded in the past. >> thank you, secretary buttigieg. secretary fudge, you and i have talked about this before. what opportunities do we have for creating jobs for people living in public housing or in poor communities as we're -- i dearly hope making significant investments in housing in those communities. >> thank you very much. we've talked about it. i think there are a number of things this jobs plan really can do. an apprenticeship program so we can prepare people for these construction jobs. we know there will be more than 100,000 of them. we can do things like making sure certain contracts and certain employees come from certain geographic areas. we can create goals for contracts. there are many things we can do and should do, and the jobs plan will allow us the opportunity to do just those things.
>> thank you. thank you very much. i look forward to really working with both of you on this. i think this is extremely important. secretary buttigieg, i want to come back to you on a question about the american jobs plan proposal to include a $20 billion grant program to help reconnect communities that have been split apart by the creation of federal highways. so just give me a minute to tell you about the story of the rondo neighborhood in st. paul. rondo was a lively community with hundreds of prospering black businesses and family homes. 88% -- 80% of st. paul's african-american population lived in rondo, including a strong and flourishing middle class. and then in the late 1950s and 1960s, you know the story, construction of the i-94 interstate literally ripped this community in half. 700 homes owned by black families were destroyed, 300 businesses gone forever and the
destruction of these homes and businesses had a devastating impact on this community. $157 million in home equity loss. that's equity that never was anyone to be passed on and has clearly contributed to the intergenerational wealth gap that we see so significantly in rondo in minnesota and the whole country. but here's the good news. the amazing community group called reconnect rondo has a vision for how to build a land bridge over the i-94 freeway examine create an african-american arts and enterprise and culture and living community. so could you, in the few seconds that i have left, talk to us a little bit about how that vision for reconnect rondo fits about what your vision is for that $20 million grant program? >> thank you. this is certainly an example of what we've been talking about in terms of how federal dollars
serve to segregate, divide or destroy neighborhoods of color. as your example illustrates, this is not something that was confined to one region of the country. it happened in so many different places. so now the question is how can we right that sometimes in some geography, that's removing, replacing or submerging a highway, and others means working around it and these are the kinds of initiatives we want to support with federal dollars in visions like the american jobs plan. in a previous administration it was federal dollars that created the problem to begin with. >> that's no accident, of course, and that's where the route i-94 freeway was chosen and i think there's an opportunity to restore that program, and i would welcome you coming and seeing what we could do there. >> thank you. >> thank you.
>> senator kramer of north dakota is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman and thank you for having this important hearing and to the two administration officials, thank you for being here. as you know, i sit both on this committee and the environment and public works committee and both of which have jurisdiction in the main titles in the surface transportation authorization bill. last month we held a hearing on the solvency on the highway trust fund and it was pointed out then that the fund would be nearly solvent if transit plans were appropriated rather than being included in the highway trust fund distribution, and i suppose there's not an appetite in congress to strip that from the fund, but congress has always kept a split between highway and transit programs
respectfully, so as we work towards the reauthorization maybe give me your perspective or ask straight up, do you think we should keep the 80/20 split between highways and transit? >> i certainly recognize the role that split in the formula has traditionally played, and i would think the jobs plan thinks beyond the year to year funding that we are accustomed to, and we know a different ratio may characterize the once in a lifetime transformational investments we need to make as a country. legislatively those two things may come to join together potentially on how things proceed. of course i think most of the communities we speak to are perhaps less concerned with the -- some of the technicalities in making sure these things are privately
funded. i think that's certain in rural areas whether we are talking about roads and highway or transit or other means of getting around. i want to echo what some of your colleagues mentioned. transit in the public imagination is perceived as big cities and it's small communities that can make a difference as well. >> under funding highways to this other issue has obviously been a detriment as well, and we need enough money to do all the things we want to do and i would like to hang on to as much as we can, if not all of it. you know, i will shift -- madam secretary, it's great to see you, by the way, and i look forward to working with you more. as you know access to affordable house something a challenge for
many americans and particularly those in rural america, and the housing choice at hud helps a little over 5 million people afford safe and decent housing in the private market and it's administered by pha's, as you know, and they have about 60 days to find a unit and they pay 30% of household income, and the increase stability and reduce homelessness and lift people out of poverty. in 2019, the landlord participation in the program determines the use, pretty obvious, right, and tenant mobility, and unfortunately there are things like rent payment standards and administrative processes and
misrepresentations of the program that can detour owners from participating in the program. in fact we know landlord participation declined. as part of improving the voucher holder's access, today senator kuhns and i, we introduced a bill, and it's a choice in the affordable housing act and it creates housing partnership fund, and he was a strong advocate for affordable housing. it would offer a signing bonus in low poverty areas, and deposit assistance and provide a
financial bonus and increase funding to the tribal hud bash program and use of neighborhoods specific data, and i just say all that as my time runs out, secretary fudge, just to tell you that i am looking forward to spending more time with you to talk about the specifics as we roll it out. >> look forward to it. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator kramer. senator cinema is recognized for five minutes from arizona. >> thank you, mr. chairman and thank you to our witnesses for being here. secretary fudge, it's wonderful to see you again. we have a lot of work to do to expand opportunities for first-time home buyers, and make sure there's affordable housing to arizonans. it's a very hot market and i hear from my friends and neighbors that a home will go on the market in phoenix and receive dozens of offers in 24
hours, and many of the offers are entirely in cash and some are above price, and i have heard of homes selling for 20% or 30% over the home list price paid entirely of cash, and it's becoming too expensive to buy a home in arizona. this has real implications for arizona families, delaying home ownership makes it harder to build long-term wealth, and other life events like getting a new job or getting married, and what do you suggest to relieve the housing market in arizona? >> just know i enjoyed our conversations as well, and we know that the biggest problem is that there's not enough supply of affordable low income
housing, it just doesn't exist, and one of the things the jobs plan will do is create as many as 2 million houses or housing units, and in addition to the tax credits we think we can add another 500 houses or units of housing, and we're talking about how we deal with assisting home buyers, whether it be home buyer assistance, technical assistance, down payment assistance, and we are working on all of those assistance because there are so many petments. >> i know some of the shortages and price issues are because other issues, like lumber shortages, so whether we are talking about traditional
manufactured housing or the growth of tiny homes, it's clear these products will play a important role in providing affordable choices, so what role do you believe manufactured housing plays in addressing ongoing housing supply choices? >> i had an opportunity just last week to have a meeting with the home builders, and they have talked about the fact that lumber alone has gone up more than 200% since covid began. we know that the cost of trying to build a single family house today based upon lumber costs, et cetera, has gone up more than $32,000. the things we are trying to do with sources like low income housing tax credits, and bridging the gap between the cost of housing and make it more affordable for people to purchase, we have put in place a
new tax credit as well. i just do say to you that manufacturing homes is an option that we too seldom look at. it is affordable. it is resilient. it is energy efficient and something we should do more and more of, because i think that it's quick to make sure that we can put in place so it's fast to put in place, and it's just a good option, as our tiny homes and others, but i think the real issue becomes how do we make whatever the product is more affordable by the use of private investments, especially by way of tax credits. >> i agree. before my time expires i want to ask a final question about homelessness. we continue to see a larger number of individuals experience homelessness due to the economic damage from the pandemic, and it's concerning and we must ensure our communities have the resources to provide safe, stable housing and other
available wrap around services that could help folks get back on their feet, and we are seeing a growing number of seniors experiencing homelessness in arizona, and it's a challenging crisis and there's no easy answers but i would like to ask that our teams work together to identify some solutions to address senior homelessness and work to earn bipartisan support? >> we will work with you. we have a lot of options we can look at. certainly, of course, congress just did give us resources for emergency vouchers, so i would be happy to work with your team. >> thank you so much, secretary. mr. chairman, i yield back my time. >> thank you, senator cinema. senator danes is recognized for five minutes. >> you told the white house press corps on march 18th, i don't know where my republican
colleagues live that don't think there's a problem, but there is, and we do understand, in fact according to the federal housing finance agency home prices rose by about 11% between the fourth quarter of '19 and '20, nationwide, and in montana annual price appreciation was 15%, the second in the nation, and housing is not affordable where i live, and median prices now around $700,000. low income families, seniors struggling to get by and young families just starting out, municipal workers that form the backbone of our communities, they can't catch a break. turning back to a point that some of my colleagues already raised, what concerns me is the fact that your agency intends to
provide assistance to illegal immigrants at the same time american citizens are homeless. considering the taxpayer dollars are a finite resource, should we really be extending housing assistance to persons that enter our country unlawfully when there are hundreds of thousands of homeless americans, to say 40,000 homeless veterans, people willing to die for our freedoms in our country? >> again, i would say that we have no intention of violating the current law. i have said it and i mean it. what you are talking about is waiving the document requirement which will not make it easy for people. we know that families who are ineligible are eventually going to be removed from the system. but we do need to give our agencies the ability to conduct determinations as to whether these people do qualify, because
initially we don't know if they qualify or not. but our goal is to make sure that people are not sleeping on the street. we know that we are going to be able to meet your requirements and the requirements of the law. i am not at all concerned about the fact that the waiver is going to increase the number of illegal undocumented people in this country. >> thank you, secretary fudge. i know we agree sheltering the homeless is critical and as a member of congress yourself, i know you will agree that taxpayer funds should be spent on citizens and our first priority has to be our constituents. shifting gears, we have witnesses record prices for wood products and other construction materials this spring which played a role in the increase in housing big increases and it will take time for supply chains to recover, and until then construction costs will remain
absorbant. >> it's a tough one, certainly, because unfortunately, hud doesn't determine what the market can get for lumber, but what we can do is make that housing more affordable by some of the things in the jobs plan. we can assist with bridging the gap between what makes a payment affordable and not affordable, and we could assist with, again, as i said, looking at down payment first-time home buyers, and looking at how we use tax credits, and there are many things we could do to assist but we really do not have the ability to determine what the cost is really going to be because the market drives a lot of that and it's not something
in our purview to do. >> and we are starting to see the affects of inflation and it's a result of some of the ill-advised of this very partisan stimulus package, another massive spending package before we even reach the absorben see, and i want to shift gears and talk about permitting reform for our secretary buttigieg. there's significant infrastructure needs in our state -- >> sorry. >> what is that? >> nothing, sorry. >> there are significant infrastructure needs in our state, and i am going to kutd to the chase because i am out of town, but secretary buttigieg how does the administration plan
to address the issue of how long it takes for the permitting process, it can take up to five years, and it's a real problem and we can get the funds to put the infrastructure in and then caught up in five years of red tape. how does the administration expect to address this in significantly reducing the permit times? >> i would welcome opportunities to work with congress on this, and i don't mean anything that would be cutting corners in safety or environmental expectations, but where we see a process taking longer than it has to, or an opportunity for our department to be more user friendly helping to move these processes along, we would welcome that so we minimize the length of time and the expense of anytime funded with federal dollars. >> thank you. >> and senator ossoff from georgia recognized for five minutes.
>> thank you. secretary buttigieg there has been early-stage planning for passenger rail linking atlanta and charlotte with a possible stop in the athens area, and there's also advanced discussion of rail connections between atlanta and savannah with a possible connection in the macon area. would you commit to working with my office to ascertain what could be accomplished in the upcoming infrastructure legislation for the southeast region and comment on such initiatives as you see fit? >> yes, i would welcome to work with you on this, and the best opportunities for strong rail connections are in the south and southeast, and as you mentioned it's not just the cities at the end points of the routes but those in tpwaepb, and macon on the one route to athens or other
communities, and it makes the duncan tree as a whole stronger which is why the president's jobs plan includes such robust resources that expands quality rail in the u.s. >> i would like to ask you a couple questions about infrastructure and transit, and first about the belt line product. as you know and we discussed since the 1960s, marta has been helping people get around atlanta, and as the growth has risen in the last couple of decades we underfunded, and also discussed rail extensions. will you commit to working with my office, the city of atlanta and relevant regional planning authorities in the state of georgia to develop a comprehensive plan to strengthen and expand marta service?
>> absolutely. as we have discussed both familiar routes and resources in marta and new possibilities around the bus rapid transit can do a lot to alleviate congestion and expanded opportunity and that has climate benefits and air quality benefits, too. we're always eager to find new ways to partner on that and glad the president's american jobs plan has the resources we need to allow local authorities not to just hold on to what they have got but to plan on the future and expanded service to those they service. >> thank you, mr. secretary. touching on the belt line initiative, there are over 150 infrastructure projects nationwide that reuse existing or abandoned infrastructure and transit infrastructure, and re-imagining and reutilizing this space to create new mobility and quality of life,
and the atlanta belt line, seven of the 22 mile loop of former freight rail already been transformed into a multiuse trail, and there has been more than $7.9 billion in private investment in this initiative. i would like the federal government to get involved in helping to complete this project. will you please meet with my office in coming weeks to discuss what we can do to advance completion of the belt line. i am so looking forward to welcoming you to georgia tomorrow, and i think we will have the opportunity to inspect it. >> thank you, and that's really looking forward to see it in person and connect with your office further on how to encourage development. we take a lot of pride in the federal dollars, i think in the tiger program that went into helping establish the earlier faces of the beltline. whenever you can reuse and repurpose resources like that,
as you mentioned, it often can unlock private dollars that can follow the investments made and we can focus on making sure it's accessible and the housing that grows up around it is affordable and you have been emphatic about the importance of that and i am eager to see it for myself. >> thank you so much, mr. secretary. finally, to touch on the importance of completing the savannah harbor expansion project. this is the deepening from approximately 42 to 47 feet of the savannah river at the entrance of the port of savannah, and you and i discussed it earlier this week, and i was meeting with mayor johnson, the port authorities and u.s. core of engineers, and we are now very, very close to completing it. i secured a commitment from the president's nominee for the deputy position at omb a couple months ago to prioritize this project. mr. secretary, will you commit to working with me and the mayor
of savannah to ensure that it's timely and fully completing this deepening and expansion project? i hope by the end of this year? >> yes, look forward to working with you on this. this is something not just regional but i think of national interests given the size and capacity of this port and it's important to us to see it through to time a timely completion. >> thank you, senator ossoff. and senator warnock from georgia is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you so much, chairman brown, and thank you both. on monday i had an opportunity to speak with fernandez, the nominee for federal transit administrator about the capital investment grant program, and the need to invest more in both
urban and rural public transportation service for communities that need that investment. secretary buttigieg, i look forward to working with you on these critical transportation priorities, but today i want to talk to you about reconnecting communities, literally reconnecting them, and reversing the damage done to predominantly poor and black communities during the construction of the interstate highways, and do you remember the downtown connecter on interstate 75 and 85 that runs right next to my church? >> yes, i remember. >> are you aware that it's construction in the 1950s and
1960s displaced or displaced poor neighborhoods in atlanta, and it split them into? >> yes, i am aware that had enormous impact in that community. >> and the irony is that this interstate that we are talking about, 7585 in atlanta is called, ironically, the connecter. it's exactly the opposite separating these precious neighborhoods in atlanta. given the history, what responsibility do you think we as policymakers have when making new physical infrastructure investments? >> well, i think when you break something you have a responsibility to put it right,
and the reality is that the federal transportation policy broke something, broke a community into, in an important way. and that creates a responsibility for us today to use resources to create connections where there had been divisions. we know how to do it, at least we in dialogue with the communities we can arrive at ways to do it and that's one of the reasons why the thriving jobs plan creates real dollars to make that possible. this is clearly the responsibility of the same federal government that in some cases created these problems, and it's an opportunity not to mend what was broken but to lift up entire communities through the benefits that would come from them being better connected. >> can you speak a little bit about ways we can address these inequities? >> well, i think, of course, it needs to be tailored to the specific community and i would
welcome an opportunity to speak with you more about some of the ideas that have emerged locally. sometimes it has to do with reenvisioning where a highway should go, or a way to connect above or beneath it. these are the kinds of things that ends the jobs plan, and that includes $5 billion to make sure it helps instead of harms, and i would welcome the opportunity to both secure those resources and to put them to good use. >> great. you are absolutely right. i agree with you that you have a responsibility, the federal government has a responsibility to repair what it actually broke, and it's the reason i'm an original co-sponsor of the reconnecting communities act, and i know you're coming to atlanta tomorrow so we'll get a chance to see the highway again,
ironicy lay called the connecter. will you commit to working with me and my colleagues on this legislation to ensure that projects succeeds to reconnect the communities in georgia, as well as the re-imagining of the i-16 are realized? >> yes, and this is in the spirit of a major administration and departmental priority, so i appreciate the work that has gone on and the leadership that would put together policies. >> great, and thank you so much. mr. chairman, i look forward to engaging secretary fudge, and i know it's something she's passionate about and we will have time to talk about it in the near future.
>> thank you. she absolutely is. we have all had those conversation wz her. thank you. thanks to both of you, secretary fudge, thank you, good to see you, and secretary buttigieg, good to see you, too. these investments we know will create good american jobs and accessed opportunity while helping communities become more equitable and affordable and resilient. i want to clarify one thing, a last question to each of you. when people say labor costs as you heard this this committee what they mean is american workers and fair wages, these jobs will pay good wages and allow workers to live with dignity in their communities they are helping to build and they will spend wages in their local communities and businesses and labor costs are the way people make a living. i want to close by bringing the discussion back to what we work, and i know you both understand
dignity of work, and my question is more of a attitude and visceral response might work. when was the moment -- i will start with you, secretary buttigieg, and when was the moment you realized we needed infrastructure investment in this country? when did you have that vision and inspiration for each of you? >> well, every mayor does battle with potholes. i remember early in my time as mayor looking at the condition of our streets and roads, the work that needed to be done and trying to do mental math about what it would take about having a great road network in our city, and turning to our public works director and asking with the funding we have how long would it take redo every lane in the city, and he let me know it would be 100 years, and i thought, all we need is a asphalt could be invented that could survive the snowing
climate, and not just to have more funding for repaving roads, but more alternatives for how people can get around, and all of us have had moments like that again and again, and especially when traveling overseas and seeing the kinds of transportations citizens take for granted, and i remember realizing for the first time in a visceral sense that we as a americans have come to settle for less, and somebody who believes in the idea of americans having the best in the world of whatever we do, and that ought to include transportation, and that pricked my national pride a little bit and left me motivated to make sure we were talking about roads, rail, housing or anything else, that we have the best in the world and that's what the american jobs plan could allow us to do finally in our lifetime. >> secretary fudge, when did it come into your mind the need for
housing and infrastructure? >> really probably from the day i started to work. i realized how it would take me four buses to get to downtown cleveland to go to work and the only effective way to do it was by car. i would have to carpool with people because they didn't have cars, and then we started to build more and more roads way beyond the suburbs where people could not get to work. there was no transportation to get them there, so they had to have a car. you start to think about it maybe not in the way i think about it now, but i knew there was a problem then, and it's taken us an awful long time to get to this point to address it. >> thank you. thank you both for being here, for senators who wish to submit questions for the record those questions are due by the close of business next thursday, may 27th. for witnesses please state, ms.
herrera beutler, is recognized for 30 minutes. the chair recognizes the gentlewoman from connecticut, ms. delauro. ms. delauro: madam speaker, i ask unanimous consent that all members may have five legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous material on the measure under consideration. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. ms. delauro: madam speaker, i yield myself such time as i may consume.