Davis & Graves work to ensure infrastructure dollars are well spent
WASHINGTON, DC – Nearly six months after the enactment of legislation to rebuild and invest in America’s aging infrastructure, the Ripon Society hosted a breakfast yesterday morning with two congressional leaders who are striving to ensure that the bill is implemented in a way that does the most good and gives taxpayers the best value.
The leaders were Rodney Davis and Garret Graves. Davis represents the 13and Illinois District in the United States House and serves as a ranking member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Public Transit, while Graves represents the 6and District of Louisiana in the House and serves as a ranking member of the T&I Subcommittee on Aviation.
Graves spoke first.
“We can argue about a lot of things, but infrastructure is not one of them,” he said. “Look at the devastating impact on the supply chain. Part of that is due not only to our lack of investment in infrastructure, but also to how we actually plan, which is how of which we conduct engineering and design activities prior to construction in infrastructure. The good news is that we have developed an infrastructure bill. The bad news is that the bill, in my opinion, contains poorly prioritized money. And you are going to see it poorly executed.
“Looking into next year, I think you’re going to see very aggressive monitoring of this legislation to make sure the dollars are in the right buckets and that we really prioritize it. Just to give you an example: 13% of all funds went to the State of California. Nothing against California, but the reality is that they don’t use a truly transparent metrics-based process. What Buttigieg did when he took over the agency was he came out and said, “We’re going to use climate change.” We will use environmental justice, racial equity, improve union opportunities and reach out to historically underserved communities.
“Look, I don’t necessarily have a problem with any of those things – maybe the union ones. But just have transparent metrics on how you’re going to do that… I think they’ve done an imperfect job prioritizing funds, and so I’m really looking forward to working with Rodney and some of our other folks this year forthcoming on aggressive monitoring of this legislation.
The Louisiana lawmaker also took a moment to discuss his subcommittee’s focus, aviation, and how it’s an area where America retains a global advantage — at least, a- he said, for now.
“Aviation is one area where we’re actually a bit ahead of the rest of the world,” Graves observed, “but we’re quickly losing our vantage point. We’re moving from approving one 737 a week to a scenario where we’re going to see 5,000 drones come out in a week. The FAA’s organizational structure—its regulatory structure—cannot facilitate the onslaught of volume and technology that we are about to see, which is going to cause us to cede our role as America’s aviation leader to countries in the Middle East, Europe, Australia, New Zealand. All of these countries are trying to lean forward.
In response, Graves said he thought it was time for Congress to act.
“We will be working on a larger FAA reauthorization bill next year,” he noted. “One thing I’d like to do is try to grab a few layouts of one-man drone systems and start moving them a little bit earlier, type-certification-wise, past the line visual crosshairs, and things like FAA structure reorganization.
“We’re going to address at the policy level some of the things that, as Garret said, can hold back American innovation,” he said. “We have an administration trying to do what it can to increase bureaucracy. We had the A federal law on the decision it was part of the big infrastructure bill to limit all environmental review processes to less than two years. It’s not like it’s impossible. All of our competitors do.
“They rolled out some proposed rules and regulations last night, and it’s a disaster. It’s an absolute disaster. At the same time, you have President DeFazio telling the administration to withdraw that money because he has a fantasy in his head that the Republicans are going to get it back. This is not in line with what the administration is doing. And in the end, politically, it benefits us, but it hurts the country. When you have laws that have been passed even though we may not have supported them, we need to make sure they are properly implemented.
Davis also made a point of commenting on Graves’ last point regarding American leadership in aviation and the federal government‘s role in it.
“You mentioned drones,” the Illinois Republican said. “I remember debating Peter during FAA reclearance because I passed an amendment that said any drone technology that was 4.4 pounds or less should not be subject to clearance and FAA approval. Well, the FAA basically wrote down the rule that it still has jurisdiction over drones that small. So we have to watch this agency. And as Garret said, we’re going to use our oversight responsibilities very effectively.
After their opening remarks, Davis and Graves answered a number of questions, including one about the causes of inflation and what Congress and the Biden administration should do to bring soaring prices under control.
“One of the most profound influences [on inflation] is the energy,” Graves said. “You have seen simply extraordinary prices. Just last night the administration announced that it was not going to hold a lease sale for offshore energy, where we currently produce about 18% of all oil and 4-5% of all natural gas. They won’t hold one. It is the first administration in modern history that has not had a single lease sale.
The result, he added, has been to throw a wrench in companies’ ability to budget accurately and prepare for the future.
“You look at a 10-year strategy or beyond, and you have these wild changes,” he observed. “You have people running agencies saying, ‘We’re not going to produce power on our lands or our waters. It’s such a disruptive approach. Do I think there is a contribution from the return of the economy as COVID begins to appear to decline? Yes. Is there an increase in economic activity and demand? Yes. But I think the biggest impact is the price of energy, and I’ve never seen such inexperienced and flawed energy strategies in my entire life.
“And this is not a political statement. I have never seen such stupid energy policies. And not just make a mistake, like we all do, and then fix it, but double and triple the same stupid things.
Davis echoed his colleague’s remarks.
“Garret is absolutely right about this administration’s lack of focus on addressing energy issues,” he said. “The far left that this administration bows to runs the show when it comes to supposedly dealing with inflationary issues and economic issues. They try to make the American people believe that there is no problem, but we know there is a problem.
“Every family knows there is a problem when they go to the gas pump or when they go to the grocery store. My wife said to me just a few weeks ago, “That cart cost a hundred dollars. It now costs $200. It’s real money that has a real impact on American families. And they don’t care. »
To view Davis and Graves’ remarks before the Ripon Society breakfast yesterday morning, please click on the link below:
The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, Wisconsin. One of the primary purposes of the Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the success of the GOP. These ideas include keeping our nation safe, keeping taxes low, and a federal government that’s smaller, smarter, and more accountable to the people.