Today, Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to enact legislation to establish an independent federal bank that would provide billions of dollars in funding for major infrastructure projects.
"Families all around the country are hurting from the downturn in the economy, and major steps are needed to both stimulate the economy in the short term and build a stronger fiscal foundation in the long-term," Congressman Yarmuth said. "The infrastructure bank will provide that boost now and into the foreseeable future, while also building the projects that our communities so desperately need."
Congress is now considering possibilities for a second stimulus package to boost America's slowing economy. Yarmuth told leadership that a targeted investment in transportation and infrastructure helps boost the economy with wide-reaching effects that ripple throughout communities. Every dollar spent on infrastructure generates about $5.70 in economic activity, and every $1 billion invested creates more than 47, 000 jobs.
Yarmuth pointed specifically to the Ohio River Bridges project in Louisville. The project has been a top community priority for more than a decade, but in the last 11 years, only 2 percent of the projects funding has been secured through the federal appropriations process
The text of a letter Yarmuth sent to Speaker Pelosi is below:
Dear Speaker Pelosi:
I want to commend your leadership and efforts over the past few months to enact legislation to stimulate our nation's struggling economy. While our progress is substantial, we have the potential to make a historic investment in the long-term economic growth of this country by establishing a federal bank to accelerate billions of dollars in long-overdue infrastructure projects.
As you are aware, infrastructure spending is one of the best investments the federal government can make in the economy. Every dollar spent generates approximately $5.70 in widespread economic benefits, ranging from new construction, engineering, and design jobs, to a boost in sales for trucks and equipment, to increased demand for raw materials like gravel, concrete, and steel. Communities also benefit tenfold from reduced congestion, business growth, improved safety, lower gas consumption, cleaner air, and a reduction in pollution related health ailments.
The list of highway, bridge, transit, and water infrastructure needs in our communities is vast, quickly outpacing federal and state funding to address these critical projects. Our country needs to invest $1.6 trillion by 2010 just to bring existing infrastructure up to standards. While many of these local projects can be addressed through the annual appropriations process, large-scale, regional projects have little or no hope of receiving significant federal investment under our current financially strapped system. We cannot expect continued economic growth if we do not provide the resources to make our communities promising places to live, work, and build businesses.
For example, in my Congressional District, we stand to benefit from the completion of a $4 billion two bridge mega project connecting Southern Indiana to Louisville, and the realignment of the Kennedy Interchange where I-64, I-65, and I-71 converge in downtown Louisville. This project has national implications, alleviating dangerous congestion and improving the movement of goods along a major downtown interstate corridor. Over the last 11 years, however, only 2 percent of the funding needed for Kentucky to complete this project has been secured through the federal appropriations process. The Commonwealth has been doing everything it can to fund this project. However, the federal government has a responsibility to assist in the completion of this and other national initiatives. This responsibility presents Congress with an extraordinary opportunity to generate long-term economic growth, create jobs, and rebuild our nation.
The federal government has a long history of overcoming challenges with the establishment of innovative public-private partnerships. Previous generations led development of the National Interstate Highway System and the creation of the Erie Canal, we have the opportunity to transform the way our country meets its infrastructure needs. A federal infrastructure bank, modeled after the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, would combine the guarantee of the federal government with the resources and innovation of private investors. This bank would implement a new system to identify, evaluate, and help finance infrastructure projects. It would leverage public and private capital to create government-backed financing packages that could include a variation of direct subsidies, low-interest loans, tax credits, and infrastructure bonds. Like other landmark legislation, establishing a federal infrastructure bank would be a major undertaking. But to turn our struggling economy around, we need a response of this magnitude.
The strength of our local communities, and the ability to build a prosperous future for our nation, depends on Congress taking action now. I, therefore, strongly urge you to make this long-term investment by advancing legislation to establish a federal infrastructure bank. Thank you for your attention to this critical matter. I look forward to working with you in the weeks ahead to transform our nation's infrastructure policy and restore faith in America's future.