Congressman Brian Higgins joined Reps. John Garamendi (CA-10), Paul Tonko (NY-21) and Marcy Kaptur (OH-9) for an extensive discussion on the Floor of the House of Representatives about the need to strengthen our nation's infrastructure.
"It's never a question as to whether or not we are going to rebuild our roads and bridges," Higgins said on the House Floor. "The question is: when does it make the most sense to undertake that responsibility? I would submit to you that the time to do it is now. Money is cheaper than it is ever going to be, equipment is cheaper because it is idling and labor is cheap because of the high unemployment rate. We need to do nation building right here at home."
Higgins added, "When you consider we just spent as a nation $89 billion rebuilding the roads and bridges of Afghanistan, we just spent $67 billion rebuilding the roads and bridges of Iraq, nations of 30 million and 26 million [respectively.] And for this nation, for America, a population of over 300 million people, when the American Society of Civil Engineers puts the quality of our infrastructure at a D, when the World Economic Forum rates us 24th in overall quality when in 2001 we were at number 2, we're going to spend less than 53 billion dollars. That's not only weak, it's pathetically weak."
In a report released this week titled "Accelerating Infrastructure Improvements with Better Public Policies that Tap Private Investment" the Center for American Progress notes "infrastructure spending has lagged well behind established needs for years and is now more than $129 billion per year short of required levels."
Congressman Higgins has repeatedly advocated for a large-scale investment in American infrastructure. Earlier this year Higgins introduced H.R. 4352, the Nation Building Here at Home Act, which calls for a $1.2 trillion investment in U.S. infrastructure over the next 5 years, adding $400 billion to the economy and reducing the unemployment rate to 5.6%. Higgins cited a report by the New America Foundation that found that a $1.2 trillion, 5 year infrastructure program will create over 27 million jobs through the projects themselves and multiplier effects.
Higgins noted the importance of Made in America efforts and how U.S investment in infrastructure can help put American's, including our returning veterans, to work, "Keep in mind when you invest in American infrastructure, you're buying labor from American businesses, you're buying supplies and material from American businesses, you're buying engineering and design services from American businesses."
According to Transportation for America report, the Buffalo Niagara region ranks thirteenth worst in the nation, among similar sized communities in terms of deficient bridges. Seven cars cross Western New York's 99 deficient bridges each and every second.