Congressman Tim Ryan Urges the President to Make Infrastructure the Priority—Not Trade

Mar 16, 2015 Issues: Helping Working Families

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tim Ryan today urged President Barack Obama to focus on passing a multi-year highway bill before pushing his trade agenda. Joining Congressman Ryan on the letter were Congressman Peter DeFazio (OR-4), ranking member on the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee; Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-3), ranking member of the Labor, Health, Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee; and Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (NY-25), ranking member of the House Committee on Rules.

“There are 70,000 bridges in the United States that are considered to be structurally deficient,” said Congressman Ryan. “This is an opportunity to put hundreds of thousands of Americans back to work to improve our country’s infrastructure. There is no doubt it will cost more if we wait. This should be President Obama’s priority—and needs to be completed instead of a controversial and damaging trade agreement.” 

The letter follows:
March 11, 2015

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20502

Dear President Obama: 

We believe it is imperative for you to focus your efforts on passing a long overdue surface transportation bill before turning your attention to a controversial trade agenda that divides Congress. America requires a robust transportation infrastructure to compete in the global economy. Around the country our crumbling roads, bridges, railroads and sewer systems urgently need improvements and repairs. India and China spend seven to nine percent of their GDP on infrastructure. We spend approximately two percent. If we want to remain the world’s leader in innovation, we need a safe and efficient surface transportation network in the United States. 

As you said in your State of the Union address, “Twenty-first century businesses need twenty-first century infrastructure - modern ports, and stronger bridges, faster trains and the fastest Internet…Let’s pass a bipartisan infrastructure plan that could create more than 30 times as many jobs per year, and make this country stronger for decades to come.” We agree, Mr. President.

You are in a unique position to move transportation legislation forward and give this country’s infrastructure the investment it needs to safely transport people and goods. A long-term, fully funded transportation bill is a priority of both the Chamber of Commerce and several labor unions. We believe you need to capitalize on the support of both sides and announce that you will not pursue TPP until you have a multi-year surface transportation bill on your desk. After the potential passage and signing of any trade legislation, we believe the White House loses leverage to get a highway bill finished. 

We are pleased that your budget includes a request and funding outline for a six-year transportation reauthorization proposal. The $478 billion is the step in the right direction, and now your leadership is needed to promote this legislation and bring the full force of the White House behind it. Thank you in advance for the time and attention you will give this matter.  Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our offices. 

Sincerely, 

_____________________                              _____________________
Tim Ryan                                                        Peter DeFazio
Member of Congress                                       Member of Congress



_____________________                              _____________________
Rosa DeLauro                                                 Louise Slaughter
Member of Congress                                       Member of Congress