Yesterday, Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, Patty Murray, spoke to a group of 200 airport executives and directors on the need to build on the two-year budget agreement to help address the nation’s infrastructure deficit, like the one facing the aviation industry.
Airports are a critical component of our nation’s transportation network and it’s vitally important for economic growth to move people and move goods efficiently. But with the recent budget crises in Congress, Senator Murray noted that airports haven’t had the certainty they need to plan for the future. Late last year, Chairman Murray reached a bipartisan, two-year budget agreement with Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee. That deal set the spending levels for this year and next, and it rolled back some of the drastic cuts from sequestration. Those spending cuts had forced the Federal Aviation Administration to implement a hiring freeze on air traffic controllers last year.
Speaking to the group, Chairman Murray emphasized the need to invest in our nation’s infrastructure to ensure the U.S. remains globally competitive with a modern infrastructure and to create jobs across the country.
Key excerpts from Chairman Murray’s remarks:
“Over the past several years, Congress has been lurching from budget crisis to budget crisis, from fiscal cliffs to a government shutdown. That gridlock hurt our economy, because, as you all well know, when businesses and industries don’t have the certainty they need, they aren’t able to make investments for future growth. And all that uncertainty made it impossible for agencies, contractors, and others to plan ahead.”
“But late last year, Chairman Paul Ryan and I worked together to show the American people that it didn’t have to be this way. When we sat down together in the budget conference, we faced a lot of skepticism. Many people were hoping that we would reach a deal to avoid another crisis. But, they were far from confident that this budget group would succeed where so many others failed. But we put ideas on the table. We made some tough compromises. We put partisanship aside. And together, we reached a compromise on a two-year budget agreement.”
“In Congress, there’s lots of talk about the budget deficit. I agree that our long-term deficit is a challenge and we need to continue to make progress on that. Over the past few years, Congress has enacted $3.3 trillion in deficit reduction. And our fiscal outlook has improved considerably, compared to just a few years ago. But our country also faces some other serious deficits in education, in research and development, and in infrastructure. I know I don’t have to tell anyone in this room that our nation’s infrastructure is facing a real crisis. It’s true for our highways, transit systems, and rail. And it’s true for our airports, which face critical capital improvement needs across the country. This deficit threatens our economic competitiveness. Other countries around the world, like China, are dramatically increasing investments in infrastructure. These countries know that to grow their economies, they need to invest in moving people and moving goods. And if we want to remain competitive on a global scale, we need to come together around a shared vision for growth and do what it takes to make that vision a reality.”
“…we need to think about smart investments that will allow us to be able to compete and prosper in the future. It’s a challenging time. But I am going to continue fighting to make sure you all have the resources and the certainty you need to succeed at your airports across the country. And I’ll need your help. When you talk to lawmakers here in D.C., and to leaders across the country, make sure they understand the threat that our infrastructure deficit poses to our communities and our economy. Make sure they know that our long-term competitiveness as a nation depend on a modern transportation system. Tell them that the demand you see at your airports is outpacing the funding you have to just maintain your current infrastructure. And make sure they know that when we invest in transportation like airports, we are rebuilding our economy, supporting jobs today, and improving our economic competitiveness for many years to come.”
“I am going to be fighting hard to get our infrastructure moving again. And I look forward to continuing to work with many of you to keep our country moving forward for generations to come.”