WASHINGTON – Bloomberg Government published an article highlighting the productive partnerships and effective governance of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee. The article highlights legislative feats from the Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure, which U.S. Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND) leads alongside Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), including authorization bills for surface transportation and drinking water and wastewater infrastructure that laid the groundwork for the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the biannual Water Resources Development Act.
“The panel oversees ‘sensitive’ and ‘emotionally charged’ issues, said Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), the current ranking member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee. That portfolio includes climate change, air quality, and clean water, as well as jurisdiction over departments like the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Fish and Wildlife Service,” wrote the article.
“[D]espite their significant ideological differences, [EPW] managed to shepherd through the bipartisan infrastructure law that included a five-year surface transportation authorization bill and upgrades to drinking water systems. They also expect to get the 2022 Water Resources Development Act included in must-pass legislation before the end of the year,” continued the article.
The article describes the committee as a “collaborative atmosphere with a track record of passing legislation” and heralded leadership’s “friendly and productive partnership.”
“‘That’s one of the things I appreciate about that committee,’ [Cramer] said,” wrote the article.
“Cramer also pointed to the importance of properly carrying out the infrastructure law. The Republican said he wasn’t sure yet which subcommittee leadership role he’d pursue in the next Congress, considering either the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee or the Clean Air, Climate, and Nuclear Safety panel. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), the current ranking member of the latter subcommittee, is retiring. EPW Republicans, including Cramer, have already started to criticize how the Biden administration is implementing various provisions of the law, with senators opposing its proposal for states to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions on highways, and chastising the guidance on road expansion,” concluded the article.
This week, Senator Cramer chaired a Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee hearing highlighting the importance of the new bridge funding programs in the bipartisan Investment Infrastructure and Jobs Act (IIJA). Cass County Engineer Jason Benson testified at the hearing and shared that the county expects to replace over 41 major bridge structures in the next 20 years. The IIJA included new funding opportunities, namely the Bridge Formula Program and Bridge Investment Program, to help states and localities improve their bridge infrastructure. The Bridge Replacement, Rehabilitation, Preservation, Protection, and Construction Program is the single largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the interstate highway system. It will distribute $5.5 billion annually through FY 2026 to state Departments of Transportation to repair bridges and each state is guaranteed a minimum annual distribution of $45 million.
“Cass County and the counties that border Minnesota in North Dakota have about half of the county bridges in the state because of the winding, meandering rivers that flow into the Red River. Because of that I’ve got 550 bridges, of which about half are on the federal system of 20 feet or greater. It’s a massive infrastructure demand. Many of those bridges were put in in the 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s, for the old single axle grain truck, not the semi-truck and large equipment they need to carry today,” testified Benson. “Even for North Dakota to be able to have five or ten million dollars, that’s a lot of bridges that can be completed.”
Click here for the full Bloomberg Government article.