Association calls on Congress to act

By Sandy Guthrie08 September 2010

US President Barack Obama's plans for a US$ 50 billion investment in infrastructure have been welcomed by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) and American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA).

AEM president Dennis Slater said that America's equipment manufacturing industry applauded the President for recognising the vital importance of infrastructure investment to the long-term strength and competitiveness of the country.

He said, "What America needs - and what voters want - is the Administration and Congress to work in partnership right now to finally pass a transportation reauthorisation bill that will address longstanding safety and quality issues, and put Americans back to work."

Mr Slater added that investing in the rebuilding and modernisation of the nation's roads, railways, runways and transit systems was a strategy that Democrats and Republicans alike should be clamouring to support.

"Instead, Congress has let a six-year bill expire while America falls behind other nations that are building infrastructure for future competition in the global marketplace. In the short term, this has and will continue to cost American jobs. In the long term, it will cost us our competitive advantage - and even more jobs."

President Obama's plan for an Infrastructure Bank and increased capacity in the US infrastructure system was an important step, said Slater.

"Congress has the opportunity to act now on transportation reauthorisation that will result in immediate job creation. We need a strategic vision for modernising our country's infrastructure, and leaders with the courage to make it happen.

"We need Congress to pass a transportation bill, and they need to come together on a robust, multi-faceted and sustainable way to pay for it, including consideration of a user fee increase. Maybe this is not the most popular policy stance in an election year, but there is no such thing as a safe road built by American workers for free," he said.

ARTBA President & CEO Pete Ruane said, "We commend the President for his focus on infrastructure investment. He has correctly noted, as our members would attest, that infrastructure investment creates jobs, improves our global competitiveness and fuels economic growth."

He said that a passage of robust, multi-year transportation bills was essential to assure predictability and continuity in the US transportation design and construction industry, as well as "to help achieve the national environmental, goods movement and safety goals we all share".

He said, "Accordingly, the US$ 50 billion investment proposed by President Obama must be part of a long-term reauthorisation bill and not a stand-alone measure. Infrastructure investment is a proven cost-effective public policy that provides recurring benefits for decades to come."

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