U.S. Chamber President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue outlined a four-point plan for infrastructure modernization and investment, framing the issue as a top policy priority for the business community and urging Congress and the administration to take immediate, meaningful action to advance an infrastructure bill.
“It’s time to invest in a 21st century infrastructure system to support and grow our 21st century economy,” said Donohue. “It’s time to approach this as a national imperative for long-term growth and competitiveness – not an exercise in parochial politics.”
The U.S. Chamber’s recommendations for an infrastructure package include:
- Increasing the federal fuel user fee by 25 cents.
- Implementing a multi-faceted approach for leveraging more public and private resources.
- Streamlining the permitting process at the federal, state, and local level.
- Expanding the American workforce through work-based learning and immigration reform.
“This isn’t a set of demands. It’s a handful of ideas that we believe policymakers should consider as they begin work on this critical national priority,” said Donohue. “We will work with anyone who is committed to getting this done for our country.”
The four-point plan was unveiled at the U.S. Chamber’s event, “America’s Infrastructure Summit: Time to Modernize.” On the sidelines of the event, Donohue was joined in a press conference by the leaders of several major trade associations, and together, they made the case that infrastructure modernization is a key policy priority across the business community.
The U.S. Chamber has long advocated for a modest increase in the federal fuel user fee to fund infrastructure improvements, and Donohue reiterated that call as he urged policymakers in Washington, D.C., to consider the idea anew this year.
“It’s the simplest, fairest, and most effective way to raise the money we need for roads, bridges and transit,” he said. “Our leaders need to stop hiding behind the fallacy that this can’t be done and just go do it.”
But the Chamber’s vision for an infrastructure package goes well beyond the gas tax. Donohue pledged that the Chamber will push for an entire toolkit of funding and financing options, as well as permit streamlining and workforce development measures.
“Without permitting reform, all the funding and financing you could dream of won’t get the job done,” said Donohue.
In order to build a skilled workforce that will be ready to undertake existing and new infrastructure projects in the years ahead, Donohue expressed the Chamber’s support for immigration reform and its commitment to advancing employer-led solutions for closing the skills gap.
Donohue concluded by saying, “This is the next great opportunity to do something significant, something long-lasting, and something long overdue, for our nation’s future. And it will benefit all of us.”