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Small Business Committee Explores Small Business Perspective on Infrastructure Reform

Small Business Committee Explores Small Business Perspective on Infrastructure Reform

WASHINGTON – The House Committee on Small Business met today for a hearing titled, “Rebuilding America: Small Business Perspective.”  Ranking Member Steve Chabot (R-OH) delivered the following opening statement:

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Thank you, Madam Chairwoman.

During my tenure as both Ranking Member and Chairman of this Committee, we have heard from many small businesses in this very room about how important repairing our nation’s infrastructure is to their businesses and others across the country, and I’m glad that we are continuing the conversation today.  This critical issue stretches across every state and district.

I am willing to bet that every Member in this room can think of at least one urgent infrastructure project in their district that they would like to fix today. There are many important projects in my district in Ohio, but one that I hear about most often is the Brent Spence Bridge. This bridge connects Ohio to Kentucky and carries an estimated 172,000 vehicles on Interstates 71 and 75 each day, more than double its intended capacity.  Today, it is labeled functionally obsolete by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

My district’s challenges are not unique. Currently, an estimated 20 percent of federal roads provide poor ride quality and 25 percent of bridges are functionally obsolete.  On average, the typical American commuter loses 42 hours of valuable productivity time each year to traffic.  I am sure the Chairwoman has experienced this a time or two in her home district in Brooklyn or Lower Manhattan.

As this Committee has learned in past hearings, broadband deployment is also a crucial part of our nation’s infrastructure, particularly for entrepreneurs in rural areas.  As business owners continue to move to a more global marketplace, access to broadband is crucial to keeping small businesses competitive. Unfortunately, too many small businesses still lack access to broadband internet service considered “fast” by the Federal Communications Commission.

As with any major project, it is critical that small businesses are not left out of the conversation.  With small businesses creating 2 out of 3 new jobs, they will be a driving force in revitalizing our nation’s infrastructure system. 

We also must be sure to engage state and local governments.  States and localities know the needs of their communities best, which is why any federal legislation created by Congress must empower local governments to be leaders in their communities.  

I look forward to hearing from our witness panel today and their ideas for moving our nation’s infrastructure into the 21st Century.

Thank you, Madam Chairwoman, and I yield back.