U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) delivered the following remarks on Monday during the signing of the Infrastructure Bill at the White House, also known as the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act. Portman served as the chief Republican negotiator for this landmark piece of legislation – which invests hundreds of billions of dollars in repairing, upgrading, and modernizing the nation’s roads, bridges, ports, and other key infrastructure assets.
“…I’ve heard President Biden say, that this infrastructure bill that will be signed today is going to have a positive impact on every single American. And that’s true. This is true today. It’ll be true for decades to come. And I want to congratulate everyone gathered here today for the role you’ve played in making this possible.
“This is what can happen when Republicans and Democrats decide we’re going to work together to get something done.
“The bipartisan process that resulted in this historic investment began with a meeting about eight months ago with my colleague, Senator Sinema, whose persistence was absolutely key to us being here today. We met, frankly, in response to the initial Biden infrastructure plan, which included tax increases and also included substantial investments in so-called human infrastructure.
“By removing the tax hikes and shrinking the package to only fund core infrastructure, we saw an opportunity to find bipartisan consensus on finally fixing our nation’s outdated infrastructure. And from there, the group quickly grew to the G-10 negotiators.
“They were just mentioned, but I got to mention them again. Senators Susan Collins, Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski, Bill Cassidy, Joe Manchin, Jean Shaheen, Mark Warner, and John Tester. Five Republicans and five Democrats.
“It ultimately grew to 22 senators, evenly divided by party and a partnership with the House Problem Solvers Caucus, led by Brian Fitzpatrick and Josh Gottheimer. Give them a round of applause.
“Senator Mitch McConnell, to his credit, supported our efforts to find a way forward and eventually lent his critical support. Senator Shelley Moore Capito helped lay the foundation for our success in her White House discussions and also in her committee work with Senator Tom Carper.
“Our work was guided by a few simple principles; core infrastructure only, no tax increases, and no linkage to the broader, partisan reconciliation process. Instead, we agreed this would be a truly bipartisan process, working from the middle out, not the top down. There were plenty of bumps along the way, but we got there because we were all committed to ultimately delivering a result for the constituents we represent.
“We also got there because of a lot of smart, hardworking staff. As usual. I want to commend my team as well as the staff of our G-10 members, and I want to commend the White House negotiators led ably by Steve Ricchetti and supported by Brian Deese.
“Every President and every Congress in modern times has proposed major infrastructure improvements. They all have. By making infrastructure a real priority in his administration, President Trump furthered the discussion and helped Republicans like me think differently about the positive impact of investment in core infrastructure.
“And core infrastructure is what this law is all about. It’s about roads and bridges and rail and transit and ports and airports and water systems, the electric grid, broadband and more.
“We’ve got a major bridge in my hometown, and it’s also a major bottleneck desperately in need of replacing. We’ve been trying to do it for 25 years, but we haven’t been able to pull together the funding and figure out how to do it. This new law finally gives us the tools we need to fix the Brent Spence Bridge. And the same is true for major projects all around the country. That’s why you see so many of my colleagues here from every region of the country because they know this is going to help to create more economic efficiency, more productivity, and maybe lessen that commute for their constituents.
“This long-term investment in our nation’s capital assets will grow the economy because of that efficiency and that productivity, it will create hundreds of thousands of new jobs. It will make us more competitive against countries like China who are investing heavily in infrastructure, much more than we have been.
“Maybe most importantly, at a time of surging inflation. These long-term investments are actually going to help. Inflation, of course, is caused when demand outstrips supply. And in this case, we’re not funding stimulus spending that adds to the demand side, but ports and freight rail and roads and bridges and other assets that will help on the supply side. That’s why economists say this bill is counter inflationary, which is so important right now as American families are facing higher prices on everything from gas to groceries.
“This new law also includes landmark permitting reforms to reduce timelines for infrastructure projects while maintaining environmental and safety standards. We want taxpayer funded infrastructure projects to be done as cost effectively as possible, right? Get them done on time and under budget.
“This bipartisan support for this bill comes because it makes sense for our constituents. But the approach from the center out should be the norm, not the exception. The increasing polarization of our country is keeping us from getting things done, and we have a responsibility to do better. The American people want to see us coming together. They know that despite our differences, we should be able to figure it out and work together to solve big problems.
“We can start by recognizing that finding common ground to advance the interests of the American people should be rewarded, not attacked.
“Mr. President, in a moment, you’re going to sign this bill. I will say that you and I will disagree on the tax and spending in the other priority you have, the reconciliation bill. But I think we can both agree that this infrastructure investment shouldn’t be a one time bipartisan accomplishment. This should be the beginning of a renewed effort to work together on big issues facing our country.
“Again, I want to thank everybody who’s here today for what you did to make this possible. Thank you.”