Investing in A New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America Act

Floor Speech

Date: July 1, 2020
Location: Washington, DC
Issues: Transportation


Mr. LEWIS. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act. This vital legislation makes critical investments in our nation's transportation, upgrades our drinking water and energy systems, and builds new hospitals, schools, and homes.

My constituents in Metro Atlanta know all too well that we have fallen behind in building for the future. Every day, we waste time and gasoline in some of the worst traffic in America. We have uneven access across our region to transit and safe bicycle and pedestrian paths. Our schools and water systems struggle to keep up with the demands of our time.

We need something new. Our current system puts good jobs out of reach, good homes out of grasp, and good air out of breath. For too long, our nation's transportation system prioritized highway expansion and exclusionary legacies that result in gentrification and displacement. These transportation planning policies contribute to racial and socioeconomic disparities in income, health, education, and environment. We can and we must do better.

The bill before us puts our country on the right track. H.R. 2 is a model that builds a 21st century transportation and infrastructure foundation. It increases funding for transit expansion, highway repair, and connectivity in low-income communities. It ensures that drivers, passengers, bicyclists, and pedestrians can safely use roads. H.R. 2 also makes a down payment towards leaving a planet that is a little cleaner and a little greener for our children.

I am pleased that H.R. 2 also includes three amendments critical for my constituents in Metro Atlanta. The first amendment allows Federal funds to build noise barriers that protect older neighborhoods from highway noise. In my district, many communities predate the interstate system. Over time, these highways became wider, busier, and louder, and the trees that kept the sounds down have worn thin. Residents are sick and tired of the noise and want some peace and quiet. My no-cost amendment will improve quality of life in frustrated communities across America.

The bill also includes my proposal about disputed changes in airport ownership. This amendment enacts current rules which maintain the Federal government's neutrality on these sensitive local matters. This common-sense policy provides certainty for passengers, airlines, concessionaires, and airport employees.

Finally, I am proud to co-sponsor an effort led by my friend, Ms. Napolitano of California. Our amendment overturns a Federal rule on sales taxes that uniquely affects Clayton County in my district. It would recover $24 million per year for the county, its cities, and the Clayton County Public Schools.

When I first came to Congress, I joined what was then the House Public Works and Transportation Committee to work on many of these issues, and I am proud to continue to address transportation equity on the House Ways and Means Committee. For these reasons, I would like to thank Chairman Peter DeFazio and his staff for helping me secure these priorities in H.R. 2 will continue to work with my colleagues to enact these common-sense policies into law.

Mr. Speaker, this is a good bill. It reminds us that we do not have to endure exhausting commutes, leaky pipes, or outdated schools. It offers hope for a better, fairer, more vibrant future for our families and communities.

I encourage my colleagues to support H.R. 2 and urge the Senate to pass it without delay. The American people cannot afford to wait any longer for relief.