U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security, will convene a hearing titled “Keeping Goods Moving: Continuing to Enhance Multimodal Freight Policy and Infrastructure” at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 4, 2017. This hearing will examine the importance of the multimodal freight transportation network and policies needed for a growing economy.
- Mr. Derek J. Leathers, President and Chief Executive Officer, Werner Enterprises
- Mr. Lance M. Fritz, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Union Pacific
- Mr. Michael L. Ducker, President and Chief Executive Officer, FedEx Freight
- Mr. James Pelliccio, President and Chief Executive Officer, Port Newark Container Terminal
Tuesday, April 4, 2017
Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security
This hearing will take place in Russell Senate Office Building, Room 253. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.
Chairman Deb Fischer
Good afternoon everyone. Thank you all for being here today for our third hearing of the 115th Congress. Today’s hearing is titled, “Keeping Goods Moving: Continuing to Enhance Multimodal Freight Policy and Infrastructure.”
I am pleased to bring together a panel of leaders who work each and every day to strengthen America’s transportation system. I’m particularly proud that we have representation from two of our nation’s largest transportation companies, Werner trucking and Union Pacific railroad, both headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska. Today’s topic is freight policy. This is an issue that’s important to every state, including urban and rural communities, and advances a wide array of transportation projects across that country.
Enhancing the flow of commercial freight across our country grows our economy, reduces costs for families and businesses, and, most importantly, increases safety for all Americans.
Everyone here today knows that the White House and Congress have been discussing a major infrastructure package.
In fact, recent news reports suggest the administration is considering a legislative strategy to pair tax reform and infrastructure together. Combining these objectives makes sense.
I support using a portion of tax reform revenues to fund infrastructure investments. Infrastructure is a core duty of the federal government. Investments in infrastructure strengthen our economy, public safety, and national security.
But as we think about infrastructure package, we should avoid falling into the trap of stimulus-style spending for its own sake. States know best their own transportation needs, not the federal government. And there’s no need to create a new program that works for various transportation projects in urban and rural states. We already have one.
In 2015, Congress passed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act and President Obama signed it into law. The FAST Act was the first long-term highway bill in a more than a decade. In it, Congress established a formula freight program that provides every state with annual, guaranteed funding. Because of the freight program, states will have greater flexibility to work with key stakeholders and local officials to develop long-term strategic investments in transportation.
The program funnels transportation funds to states and allows them to decide on their terms how to use it.
The only stipulation: projects must somehow be connected to enhancing freight transportation movements. Railway-highway grade separations, truck-only lanes, and highway or bridge projects are examples of possible uses.
By dedicating funding for rural and urban freight corridors, the program enhances the flow of commercial traffic and increases safety on our nation’s roads for all travelers.
The true beauty of this program is it offers states the opportunity make critical investments that best meet their specific geographic and infrastructure needs.
For example, Nebraska can elect to invest in a rail-grade crossing or a truck parking lot along a rural road.
At the same time, California could choose to invest in on-dock rail projects at our nation’s largest port complex, located just outside of Los Angeles. The national freight program works for all states, without leaving any behind.
The national freight policy also has robust bipartisan support. For example, I know my colleague and friend, Senator Cantwell, has been a strong proponent and advocate of the freight program.
As Congress and the Trump Administration work to address our nation’s infrastructure needs with revenue from tax reform, expanding the national freight program should be an idea on the table. I believe that it would be a wise investment in America’s future.
Along with investing in infrastructure, Congress must keep in mind how unintended regulatory consequences can impact our freight network. Whether it is a delay to a critical highway project or a new requirement that negatively alters the supply chain, burdensome regulations can hinder progress.
States need certainty and predictability when initiating key transportation projects. Transportation stakeholders in the private sector are constantly innovating to enhance efficiencies along the supply chain using real time data and novel technologies. There’s a real opportunity to work together and facilitate greater innovation across our nation’s transportation network.
I look forward to today’s discussion and how we can bolster our nation’s freight infrastructure.
I now turn to my colleague and Ranking Member Senator Cory Booker for his opening remarks.
Witness Panel 1
Mr. Derek J. LeathersPresident and Chief Executive OfficerWerner Enterprises
Mr. Lance M. FritzChairman, President, and Chief Executive OfficerUnion Pacific Corporation
Mr. Michael L. DuckerPresident and Chief Executive OfficerFedEx Freight Corporation
Mr. James PelliccioPresident and Chief Executive OfficerPort Newark Container Terminal