Improving Central Valley infrastructure and connectivity has always been a priority of mine and I have been a subcommittee Chairman on the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure since my first day in Congress. I was surprised to read in this paper an outright lie from Josh Harder about my record on transportation. I have never advocated for raising the federal gas tax, nor has Congress ever voted on it in my time here. The truth is, we need a wholescale shift in our approach to funding transportation in this country. With the advent of more efficient vehicles, especially electric vehicles that pay nothing at the pump, the gas tax will soon be obsolete.
To solve this problem, I’ve been calling for an independent, non-partisan Infrastructure Bank to help leverage public and private dollars to build big transportation projects, especially much needed water storage for the Valley. Current rates of federal and local spending will be nowhere near enough to fill the funding gaps needed to solve our nation’s infrastructure needs. Without a new model, the U.S. will soon have a $1 trillion investment gap. I am poised to be the next Chairman of Transportation and Infrastructure and from that position I will work aggressively to boost the amount of money we spend on roads, bridges and water storage through an Investment Bank.
My focus on highway and bridge investments has produced numerous improvements for the Valley. I led the successful effort to increase funding for the Highway Bridge Program and was joined by a group of 34 bipartisan California colleagues. I secured changes to allow pollinator habitat to be built on transportation rights-of-way to help reverse the crisis our farmers were facing. I authored and passed in to law several pieces of legislation to improve Amtrak, bolster pipeline safety, increase safety on ACE train and repeal the disastrous Waters of the US rule that was destroying local farms.
One of my biggest successes came when I passed a law allowing California to substitute its environmental review process for the federal review process. Previously local governments had to compile costly environmental reviews at both the state and federal level, even though in California’s case they were equally stringent. Naturally, radical environmentalists would sue over both and projects would drag on for years and dramatically increase in cost.
Locally, I have targeted priority projects like the Gateway Express project on State Road 132 securing $9 million for the two-lane highway around Modesto. I authorized the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to complete the Lower San Joaquin River Flood Risk Management project to bring safety to our communities during rising floods. My passenger rail reauthorization bill allowed Amtrak to operate more like a business. We now have early morning service from Turlock and Modesto arriving in Sacramento before 8:00 o’clock – connecting Valley residents to more job opportunities.
Finally, I authored and passed in to law the Federal Asset Sales and Transfer Act to radically transform the way the federal government manages property. Prior to my legislation the federal government wasted almost $2 billion a year on empty and unused government property. My bill will sell off and consolidate federal property and save taxpayers upwards of $15 billion.
These are real solutions and I have delivered tangible results. My opponent talks about advocating for local infrastructure, but when our community needs his support he’s nowhere to be found. He’s only voted in one local election – after filing to run for Congress – and just this week failed to show up and support his community at the Water Rally in Sacramento. I have a long record of working to bring more transportation to the Valley. As the next Chairman of Transportation and Infrastructure, we can do even more.