DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg paid a visit to Capitol Hill on Wednesday as the nation’s highest ranking transportation officer stood in front of a congressional transportation panel.
Buttigieg paraded a glowing testimonial of the department’s improvements to America’s supply chain, freight movement, and highway safety throughout the current Biden administration.
The secretary identified a key legacy accomplished earlier in the Biden term—the bipartisan infrastructure law in 2021 and its array of funding opportunities for all sectors of transportation.
Additionally, he touted other initiatives, like expanding truck parking capacity across the country.
Republican lawmakers press Buttigieg, Biden administration
All in all, Buttigieg reassured lawmakers of progress: “We’re strengthening supply chains to keep goods moving and reduce prices…Last week, I was outside Salem, South Dakota, where we’re helping repair 28 miles of Interstate 90– a major freight corridor – and adding new truck parking, which we consistently hear from truckers is their top priority.”
Not everyone at the hearing was on the same page as the secretary, however. Republican lawmakers challenged Buttigieg on federal funding, particularly the $1.2 trillion infrastructure law, and how they believe it has become a financial blackhole.
“We continue to hear about the need for more money for infrastructure investment, but it seems that you’re not spending the money you have already,” Representative Rick Crawford (R-Ark.) told the secretary.
There have been concerns with the department’s efficiency of awarding grants and disbursing funds to appropriate projects.
Additionally, fellow Republican Representative Mike Bost (R-Ill.) rebutted the department’s truck parking efforts: “You haven’t done anything substantial to expand new truck parking locations, so the problem still exists.” Bost is sponsoring truck parking legislation that awaits a vote in the House.
On the flip end, Democrats in attendance offered relief and support to Buttigieg, including praise for the Biden administration’s infrastructure law and the transportation department’s execution of advancing projects that bring improvements to supply chains and infrastructure.
“Thank you, Mr. Secretary, for your steady hand in guiding the department and the priorities Congress has asked you to implement,” Representative Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) told Buttigieg.
The backdrop of a certain event made Buttigieg’s September 20 appearance in Congress even more tense. American autoworkers are striking and Republicans went on to blame the Biden administration’s policies of supporting electric vehicles as driving a wedge between unions and automakers. At the hearing, Buttigieg took their heat.
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