U.S. Representative Nick J. Rahall (D-W.Va.), expressed his pleasure at President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address in a statement last night, praising Obama’s recognition of the need to create jobs and calling for bipartisanship to make that happen.
“I am pleased that the State of the Union address highlighted the need to create good jobs here in America,” Rahall, the top Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said. “We have a real opportunity – and responsibility – to create those jobs now by making adequate investments in our nation’s crumbling surface transportation infrastructure.”
Rahall spoke of how Democrats and Republicans must “work together to ensure that every dollar spent goes toward creating American jobs.”
“We cannot afford to outsource construction jobs to China that can and should be filled by American workers,” Rahall said.
Ranking Member Rahall has been a Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for 35 years – his entire tenure in Congress.
The Committee has broad jurisdiction over the Nation’s highways, railways, airports, seaports, bus lines, and pipelines, as well as the Economic Development Administration, Appalachian Regional Commission, Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and other crucial economic development programs.
“America used to lead the pack when it comes to manufacturing and innovation, but now we are packing up entire industries and sending them overseas to our foreign competitors,” Rahall said. “We are no longer buying just cheap trinkets from China. We are now literally buying bridges and major transportation infrastructure.”
The representative said that the country has the capabilities, capacity and construction workers ready to “get the job done here at home.”
“Americans – who are badly in need of jobs – should rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure,” Rahall said. “Instead, our roads and bridges are being stamped ‘Made in China’ while being paid for by American taxpayers.
He also said that Democrats and Republicans have “historically stood side by side when it comes to funding for transportation because these investments create jobs,” but noted the importance of how the funding is secured.
“We must also be honest about how we plan to fund a surface transportation bill so our children and grandchildren are not saddled with our debt,” Rahall said.
“Democrats and Republicans must come together to identify real, sustainable revenues needed to address our long-term surface transportation infrastructure investment needs,” Rahall said. “New energy exploration will not magically create the money needed to fix our crumbling roads, bridges, and transit systems. Independent experts agree that we cannot simply drill our way out of this problem because it will generate nowhere near the amount of revenue needed in the near-term.”
Rahall is the sponsor of the “Invest in American Jobs Act of 2011” (H.R. 3533), which, Rahall says, would create American jobs by strengthening Buy America requirements for investments in transportation and infrastructure by requiring that all of the steel, iron, and manufactured goods used to construct these projects, which are financed by U.S. taxpayers, are produced in the United States.
“But these jobs must be in Beckley not Beijing, St. Louis not Shanghai,” Rahall said. “When we make it in America, more middle-class Americans can make it in America.”