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Transportation & Infrastructure

In 2018, Congressman DeFazio was elected by his peers to serve as Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. A member of the Committee since 1987, DeFazio previously served as Chairman or Ranking Member of four of the six subcommittees: Aviation, Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, Highways and Transit, and Water Resources and Environment.

Over his career, DeFazio has established a reputation as a national leader on transportation issues.  He believes the United States must invest in a robust, multimodal transportation system if it is to remain in league with competitor nations around the world. Yet the U.S. is seriously lagging behind. According to the Federal Highway Administration over 337,502 bridges—over 50% of all bridges in the U.S.—are not in good condition. Similarly, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) found that “one out of every five miles of highway pavement is in poor condition and our roads have a significant and increasing backlog of rehabilitation needs.” Across the country, trucks are rerouted due to weight restrictions on bridges, and Americans waste time and money on gasoline idling in traffic.

Major Accomplishments

Highways & Transit

MOVING AMERICA FORWARD

In July of 2020, the House of Representatives passed DeFazio’s comprehensive transportation legislation that invests more than $1.5 trillion in our nation’s roads, bridges, transit, rail, ports and harbors, schools, housing, broadband, drinking and wastewater systems, postal service, clean energy sector, health care infrastructure, and more.

DeFazio’s bill moves our country away from decades-old transportation planning models and programs, and is key to creating millions of American jobs, supporting U.S. manufacturing, combatting the climate crisis, and addressing long-standing disparities in communities around the country.

Highlights of the Moving Forward Act for southwest Oregon include:

  • Creating a new Rebuild Rural Roads grant program, funded at $250 million, with broad eligibility targeted at meeting rural roadway needs;
  • Providing $1 billion per year to the off-system bridge set aside to repair deficient and unsafe bridges in small communities;
  • Increasing safety funding by 30%, including an increase in the High Risk Rural Roads set-aside;
  • Funding a new pre-disaster mitigation program with $6.25 billion to respond to climate change and makes eligible evacuation routes for fires and seismic zones;
  • Providing over $2 billion per year to Tribes and federal land management agencies, including the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management;
  • Increasing funding to the Federal Lands Access Program;
  • Creating a $300 million set aside for wildlife crossings to improve safety and connectivity of wildlife habitat and allowing those funds to be used for fish passage and culvert replacement; and
  • Requiring states to fairly distribute Surface Transportation Program (STP) funds to smaller communities proportionally.
  • Providing over $1 billion per year in rural transit funding, a 60 percent increase over current levels.
  • Investing over $2.5 billion per year in buses and bus facilities to support safer and more reliable transit options.

Stopping Sexual Assault in Transportation (H.R. 5139)

In October of 2020, the House unanimously adopted Chairman DeFazio’s H.R. 5139, the Stop Sexual Assault and Harassment in Transportation Act. The bill would require transportation providers—including passenger airlines, transit agencies, cruise ship operators, taxis and ridesharing companies—to establish formal policies, training, and reporting structures to effectively respond to sexual assault and harassment incidents.

FAST Act (Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act, Public Law 114-94)

In the 114th Congress, DeFazio led efforts to increase investment in surface transportation as a lead drafter and negotiator of the FAST Act (Public Law 114-94), a five-year surface transportation reauthorization act that provided $281 billion in guaranteed funding for highways, highway safety, and transit infrastructure, and authorized and made improvements to Amtrak and DOT's hazardous materials safety program.

MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, Public Law 112-141)

In 2012, as the ranking Democrat on the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, DeFazio helped negotiate a 27-month federal highway and transit spending bill called MAP-21.  Under the bill, DeFazio secured $1.1 billion for Oregon's roads, bridges, highways, and transit systems.

DeFazio worked to ensure the formula he negotiated seven years earlier in the previous major transportation bill, SAFETEA-LU, remained in MAP-21. This allowed Oregon to remain a net-beneficiary and receive more dollars to fix its roads, bridges, and highways than it sends to Washington, D.C., through the gas tax.

MAP-21 also contained a temporary extension of county payments for Oregon counties, as well as one year of lower interest rates for college students who take out Stafford student loans; these rates were set to increase from 3.4% to 6.8%.

SAFETEA-LU (Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users, Public Law 109-59)

In 2005, DeFazio served as the ranking Democrat on the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit where he helped negotiate a five-year federal highway and transit spending bill called SAFETEA-LU. Under the bill DeFazio secured a total of $2.7 billion for Oregon.

Of those funds, DeFazio was able to boost the amount of highway formula funds Oregon received by $510 million over the previous bill for a total of $2.21 billion. He also secured $297.2 million in transit formula funding, and another $200 million to repair Oregon's bridges—$160 million was used for the reconstruction of crumbling bridges along I-5 and $40 million was used for reconstruction of bridges across Oregon.

Ports, Harbors and Waterways

Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund

Oregon’s coastal harbors are heavily used by recreational boaters and commercial fishermen, and are mainstays for communities struggling to maintain their fisheries. Maintaining navigation channels at these ports, and port infrastructure, is vital for the economy of the region and the safety of the boating public.

Without regular removal of sand and silt through dredging, the shallow channels that make up the entrances to ports swiftly deteriorate and become dangerous, even impossible, to navigate.  Impassable channels leave coastal communities without the commercial shipping, fishing, recreational boating, and even Coast Guard operations that their economic livelihoods depend upon.

Throughout his tenure, DeFazio has fought successfully to secured federal funds to dredge small ports along Oregon’s south coast. 

In March 2020, DeFazio successfully negotiated to include language in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that created a discretionary cap adjustment allowing for the full-utilization of the annual collections to the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund in the future. This change would enable the investment of approximately $25 billion over the next decade from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund and help ensure the funds collected are used for their intended purpose of dredging federal harbors to their constructed widths and depths.

WATER RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT ACT (WRDA)

In July 2020, the House passed DeFazio’s legislation, the Water Resources Development Act of 2020 (WRDA). The bill fulfilled Chairman DeFazio’s longstanding effort to not only fully utilize the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund through the budget cap adjustment included in the CARES Act, but also to tap the nearly $10 billion in already collected fees sitting in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund to dredge harbors, repair jetties, and maintain navigation channels. In addition, the bill:

  • Doubles dedicated funding to small harbors and allows those funds to be used for additional purposes, including the dredging of marinas;
  • Directs the Army Corps of Engineers to provide further information on design solutions for the Port of Port Orford Breakwater, which has contributed to shoaling at the port;
  • Authorizes a study of siltation at the Port of Bandon to improve navigation and safety;
  • Ensures the Army Corps of Engineers will maintain the deepened channel at the Port of Coos Bay to support growing exports from Roseburg Forest Products and other port clients;
  • Authorizes a new program for ecosystem restoration to benefit salmon and steelhead and gives these projects equal priority to other ecosystem restoration projects; and
  • Directs the Army Corps of Engineers to study of the removal of power generation at Detroit and Cougar Dams to reduce costs to public power agencies and potentially open miles of pristine salmon habitat upstream of the dams.

Aviation

Boeing MAX 737 Investigation

In 2019, after two Boeing 737 MAX crashes just months apart killed 346 people, including eight Americans, Chair DeFazio initiated the most comprehensive oversight investigation in the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s history. The Committee held five oversight hearings, reviewed hundreds of thousands of pages of internal documents from Boeing, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and others, and conducted dozens of interviews with Boeing employees, FAA officials and whistleblowers. The findings from this comprehensive investigation led DeFazio to introduce H.R 8408, the Aircraft Certification Reform and Accountability Act, a bipartisan bill to reform the FAA’s aircraft certification process, ensure the safety of U.S.-manufactured aircraft, and address conflicts of interest between manufacturers and their safety regulator.

Rail

DeFazio is well-regarded as an advocate for freight and passenger rail systems and has consistently supported increased funding and investments in passenger rail services. He has also consistently supported increased funding for Amtrak and believes it will never live up to its full potential if it's consistently underfunded. DeFazio’s infrastructure legislation, if enacted, would make historic investments in Amtrak in order to build out a robust, national network, provide more reliable service, and address the massive backlog of maintenance needs.

In Oregon, DeFazio helped secure a $3.6 million grant to improve the on-time performance and reliability of the Amtrak Cascades service. DeFazio also led efforts to provide emergency supplemental funding to Amtrak during the COVID-19 pandemic to preserve passenger rail service in Oregon. As Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, DeFazio invited Eugene’s State Representative Nancy Nathanson to testify on the need for increased Amtrak services and rail improvements to address slipping on-time performance (click to watch Rep. Nathanson’s testimony). Previously, DeFazio has supported grants to renovate the Albany and Eugene train stations and invest in new train sets for the Amtrak Cascades service.   

Restoration of the Coos Bay Rail Line

The Coos Bay Rail Line was embargoed by the Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad (CORP), a subsidiary of Fortress/RailAmerica, in September 2007. The embargo resulted in the loss of hundreds of jobs and negatively impacted businesses in Southwest Oregon. Once CORP embargoed the Coos Bay Rail Line, DeFazio worked tirelessly with the Port of Coos Bay, and state, and local shippers to get the line reopened.

In 2008, DeFazio testified before the Surface Transportation Board and requested they approve the Port's application to force the sale of the line to the Port from CORP. In March 2009, DeFazio secured $8 million in federal funds to help the Port buy the rail line.

Later, DeFazio requested the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) award $13.5 million in competitive grant funds to finish repairs on the Coos Bay Rail Line. The DOT fast-tracked the response and obligated the funding to the Port.

In 2011, DeFazio secured another $2.5 million in federal funds for the rehabilitation and repair of the Coos Bay Rail Line. These funds will help the Port of Coos Bay purchase additional railroad ties so trains operating on the line can run at faster speeds.

In 2020, DeFazio secured an additional $9.9 million from the Department of Transportation for repairs to the Rail Line. The 2020 grant marks more than $40 million DeFazio has secured for the Coos Bay Rail Line in the last five years, including a $20 million grant in 2018 and an $11 million grant in 2016.

 

 

 

 

More on Transportation & Infrastructure

Nov 25, 2020 Press Release

Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04) today announced a nearly $1.5 million grant, awarded by the Economic Development Administration (EDA), to construct the Ko-Kwel Wellness Center to provide medical and dental services for the Coquille Indian Tribe.

As Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, which has jurisdiction over the EDA, DeFazio played a leading role in securing this funding in the CARES Act.

Nov 25, 2020 Press Release

Washington, DC - Today, Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) released the following statement after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced its decision on the Pebble Mine Project in Bristol Bay, Alaska, denying the permit.

Nov 19, 2020 Press Release

Earlier this week, H.R. 8408, the “Aircraft Certification Reform and Accountability Act,” legislation led by Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) to strengthen the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) aircraft certification process in response to the crashes of two Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in a span of less than five months, passed the House.
 

Nov 17, 2020 Press Release

Today, legislation led by Transportation and Infrastructure Chair Peter DeFazio to ease financial burdens on States, local, and tribal communities that have been granted Stafford Act Emergency and Major Disaster declarations this year, the FEMA Assistance Relief Act of 2020, passed the House of Representatives.

Oct 21, 2020 Press Release

Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04) today applauded the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for approving Oregon’s request for Public Assistance funding to repair public infrastructure damaged earlier this year by wildfires.

Last week, DeFazio led the Oregon delegation in a letter to FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor urging support for Governor Kate Brown’s request for Public Assistance Categories C through G, which would fund repairs for roads and bridges, water control facilities, public buildings and equipment, utilities, and parks and recreation areas.

Oct 9, 2020 Press Release

Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04) today announced that he has secured a nearly $9.9 million grant from the Department of Transportation for repairs to the Coos Bay Rail Line (CBRL). This grant marks more than $40 million DeFazio has secured for the CBRL in the last five years, including a $20 million grant in December 2018 and an $11 million grant in July 2016.

Oct 1, 2020 Press Release

Today, Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) sent a letter to R.D. James, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, expressing his deep concern with the Trump administration’s actions to remove federal protections over the Nation’s rivers, lakes, streams, and wetlands through implementation of its Navigable Waters Protection rule—which is better known as the Dirty Water Rule. This proposal, which took effect earlier this year, has removed decades-old protections over countless U.S.

Sep 30, 2020 Press Release

Today, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure marked up legislation authored by T&I Chair Peter DeFazio to reduce the financial burdens on states, tribes and local communities after natural disasters, such as wildfires, floods, and hurricanes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bill will now get a vote on the floor as part of House Democrats’ updated COVID-19 relief legislation.

Sep 30, 2020 Press Release

Rep. Peter DeFazio, Chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, today released the following statement on House Democrats’ latest COVID-19 relief package, introduced Tuesday: