tv Transportation Secretary Holds Briefing CSPAN November 9, 2021 2:23am-2:50am EST
was signed into law on saturday. >> hi, everybody. this is all for pete, i know. secretary pete. good afternoon, everyone. good to see everybody. joining us today as a set -- is the transportation secretary, pete buttigieg, who is here to talk about the president's bipartisan infrastructure deal. i don't want to steal his tundra, but as you all know, the once in a generation bill is
the largest ever federal investment in public transit, clean energy transmission, and electric vehicle infrastructure and clean drinking water. it delivers for the american people i rebuilding our roads, railroads, and railcars, bridges, buses, ports, and airports, all while creating good paying union jobs. with that, we'll will turn it over to secretary buttigieg. this isn't his first time at the podium, i think this might be his third time. but it's his first time joining us as a father. so on a personal note, congratulations to you on the birth of gus and penelope. we thought that was great news. with that, i'm happy to introduce you. >> thank you. good afternoon, everybody. thanks for the chance to address you. we are so thrilled and
excited. we are excited with the next formation point about what we are going to be able to deliver. we are so thankful to everybody who has played a role in this, things to members of congress on both sides of the aisle, president biden's historic bipartisan infrastructure deal now become the law of the land. it couldn't come at a more urgent time. in the 10 months that i've job'e country and seen the state of our infrastructure firsthand. i saw mesh nets hung under bridges to catch pieces of concrete that fall off from time to time. century-old tunnels corroded by seawater that thousands of people depend on every day. roads where community members are installing memorials to lives lost and preventable traffic crashes. highway set of cut communities
into. infrastructure is so elemental to our society, that when it is not there to serve us in the right way, all of us are impacted. what is, when it is strong, -- when it is strong, every community feels the benefits. when combined with the build back better act, the bipartisan infrastructure deal, the big deal, they are going to create a generation of good union jobs, historic investments in equity and in the fight against climate change. they're going to make sure that america can compete and win in the decades ahead. this is the largest investment since the creation of the interstate highway system. including the largest investment in our bridges ever. so we can avoid devastating closures and disruptive collapses like we've seen. including what we saw in tennessee and florida and far too many other places. it's also the largest investment
in public transferred ever. -- public transit ever. including investment for seniors and people with disabilities. it's one to replace thousands of outdated buses with clean zero emission vehicles and aging railcars. it's going to strengthen the supply chain by improving our ports, airports, and freight rail. it will increase funding for major projects. every year, we have discretionary programs that are bodily in part for local economic development and the national supply chain. we are going to the current round of applications right now. for every dollar we have to give up, there are about 10 impressive applications coming in, allowing us to grow the programs we can use and very direct ways to address the issues of our time.
for every good project like this, there are many more that are worthy. this helps us to change that. later today, we will be headed to alaska -- to glasgow. we've seen so many impacts of climate change on american lives, on our transportation systems themselves, and that is part of why this plan includes funding to put people to work. and build out a national network of electric vehicle chargers and
expand public transit, also a huge part of the climate solution. there's a lot beyond our transportation elements, lead pipes, cleaning up solutions, broadband and more pit would would all these investment have in common is that they will create jobs. when in mechanics to maintain the transit vehicles, drivers operating them, construction workers, rebuilding those roads and bridges. most of those jobs will be available whether you have a college degree or not. which is why the president often talks about this as a blueprint for american competitiveness and a generational investment in every sense of the word. something that means a lot more to me now is a new father, because this is how we do right by the next generation before it's too late. thanks again. eager to take some questions. reporter: thank you for taking
our question. the bill gives your department an unprecedented amount of discretionary funds. can you spell out how you plan to prioritize that money? just give us a sense of what projects we can expect to see getting started for us. >> our department has been hoping this bill would pass. now that it has come we've taken it to the neck level. i would break it into two parts. -- now that it has, we've taken it to the next level. discretionary programs to raise tiger and infra. you will see persist on projects that taken together give us extra value in the priorities of this administration. economic strength, equity, climate, preparing for the future. we see a lot of projects at overlap in that sense.
the last round of infra will give you a sense. we have so much more to work with. then we have to stand uphold new programs. six treats for all. we've never had a multibillion-dollar safety initiative like that. reconnecting communities. responding to divided communities, often along racial lines. the intent of those programs is clear. the mechanics of those, we've got to work hard to make sure we get it right. that the criteria are transparent. that it's easy to understand how to apply. whether you are a large city or small rural community. and that all those dollars are spent accountably. because we are talking about taxpayer money. reporter: [indiscernible] -- prevent mismanagement of that money and front? >> that is also happening at the administration level. the president made this clear to us, when the rescue pens others came through. we need that we were going to be
held to a high standard by the president as well as the public. so we have an executive council with the deputy secretary and undersecretary as well as my -- as well as myself to make sure these dollars are spent well. reporter: can you give us the breakdown of the implementation of justice forwarding with the infrastructure package that's now passed? can you give us the construct of how you will deconstruct the racism that was built in? [indiscernible] can you talk to us about how that will be deconstructed? >> the principle of justice warty is that at least 40% of the clean investments in this bill will go to benefit the committees that are under -- that are overburdened and underserved. we are working to map out the
program mode by mode, what would qualify. for example, buying clean buses. in terms of where those buses go. also looking at the business opportunities. the businesses that will have a chance to compete for the business opportunities it creates. that, too, is a very important element of equity here in the spirit of justice 40. we know that we've got to build our own internal kind of ways of aligning and defining that inside the administration. as to where we target those dollars, i'm still surprised
some people were surprised, too, and i pointed to the fact that if a highway was built for the purpose of dividing a white and black neighborhood, or if an underpass was constructed such that a bus carrying mostly black and puerto rican kids to a beach in new york was designed to look for it to pass by, that
obviously reflect racism
that went into those design choices. i think we have everything to gain by acknowledging it and then dealing with it. which is why they are reconnecting communities. that is something we want to get to work on right away. >> and that is such a heavy lift. you have to reconstruct communities. like you said, some of these beltways, roadways were built before the civil rights act. they were meant to be racist. but how do you go about redefining and replanting these roadways and communities that are already settled in? >> what's interesting is, it is going to vary buy community and we have to listen to the community. the important thing is sometimes to add rather than
subtract, so we don't want to impose a one-size-fits-all answer from here. looking at i-81 in syracuse, for example, we saw the local vision of how they want to get past those divisions and those local ideas will be considered seriously. >> you just said this bill could not come at a more urgent time. [no audio] >> i will refer you to my white house colleagues on that. >> and you talk about what the campaign to sell this bill is going to look like? given that it will take time for these projects to be completed and go into effect. >> i expect it will be led by the president traveling to show where the need is and where the action is. i am certainly eager to be part of the effort. i mean, a lot of the cells itself. communities never needed to be persuaded. that they needed to be fixed or
their airport needed an upgrade or their ports needed investments. they've been trying to get washington to catch up to them. it's important for us to go out there. especially in communities where a member of congress or the senate played an important role. members from both sides of the aisle played an important role in delivering this bipartisan win. i can't wait to be out there celebrating good news. reporter: thank you, mr. secretary. as you pointed out, this was a bipartisan bill. was there any discussion of the president not letting democrats oppose some of the republicans who were running or giving them a pass in the next election? >> not that i've been part of p would what i will say is, we are really proud of the bipartisan character of this bill. the conversations we had, it wasn't transactional like that. it didn't have to be. because these investments were already so good for the
communities these members represented. there are times when you ask somebody to take a tough vote. to me, these provisions were rightly so popular that the only thing that was tough was for some republicans to stand up to those who wanted them to choose party over what was right for their community. >> so there was no discussion from your side about the partisanship of it? >> i don't remember talking about when i was talking to any member of either party or chamber talking about campaigns and elections in that way. what we talked about his -- now of course, we believe good policy is good politics. i think it is going to reflect well on anybody who voted to deliver these big wins and jobs for their communities. i think that is just good legislation. >> i wanted to ask about one report in the bill. how will that solve the supply chain issue the u.s. is facing
right now? that is something you say often when you're talking about the supply chain. >> one is that we need to make sure the ports are as efficient as possible. there are cases where more technology -- sometimes physical technology, but sometimes it's more to do with the systems that help the different players talk to each other. ports are not a single entity, their support itself, the terminal operators, the truckers, and all of them are interacting and competing with other companies. we want to support ways to do that. some of it is multimodal. in savannah, we have an inland port where you can rush containers out of that precious port space and then sort them out, to be more efficient and speedy. those are a couple of examples.
let me point to a third thing, the healthy ports initiative, there are a lot of initiatives around ports, from the ships themselves, to the trucks, the equipment, one thing that is tough right now is the neighborhoods that are close to them feel that impact, including an increase in asthma rates. in disproportionately black and latino neighborhoods. this provision helps electrify them so they don't have to worry as much about those emissions. one of the many things we are trying to address. >> have you thought about relaxing motor carrier regulations further? >> i believe there was a provision in this legislation, exactly. but we've got to be careful about safety. the with the provision works is, it is a mentorship type apprenticeship -- apprenticeship type of initiative, trying to manage the potential for there to be a safety trade-off. we want as many people to be qualified drivers as possible. but never at the expense of
safety. we will always look at other steps we can take. we've got to make truck driving a better job. truck drivers -- there's a reason the turnover is so high. the way they are are compensated, they are often not compensated for their time. which means their time is wasted freely sometimes when they are waiting for a load at the port for example. truckers do not have the option to work from home, on zoom. they are the backbone of the big part of our supply chain. we have to respect them and compensate them better than we have. >> thank you, secretary. president biden said americans will start seeing the effects of the infrastructure built into-three months -- in 2-3 months. can you provide a more they told ted valley -- a more detailed timeline? >> with something like infra, that sees something like a
twofold increase in the authorized funding, and they are not waiting for us in washington to invent these projects. we are already going through the applications for this year's programs now. we will in very short order be working on next year's. you will see a notice go out. some will take a little bit longer. this is an era where it is about making sure that we hit every program to try to address th -- address the immediate and the economy. reporter: farmers have had bridges close down in their area for two or three years. when exec look and americans expect to see a difference in their lives? will it be to the three months or sometime soon? >> the short answer is, as fast
as many of these agencies and workforces can absorb those dollars, when the formula increases or a new grant is available. sometime soon. but this is about many years ahead starting now. reporter: a quick follow-up. when reviewing applications, do you have adequate staff to review all the applications? >> great question. yes. but we are going to have to grow as well. we have to mature we are staffed properly and organized -- make sure we are staffed properly and organized. of course, there's an admin dimension to make sure that we have the right staffing, human power. >> in terms of the highway money that will go directly to states, is there more you can do to encourage -- to make sure that money is not used to just widen roads to encourage more people to drive? >> this is not just about
adding. this is about being smarter in terms of how people move around. the best way to allow people to move in ways that are better for congestion and better for climate is to give them alternatives. the transit funding doesn't sound like a highway policy. part of what takes the pressure of highways is this unprecedented historic funding for transit. having said that, we are certainly -- when there's any discretion involved, we are going to think about what's really going to helps of the problem. we are also interested in the performance measures being contemplated as part of the second round. with this legislation, we have the tools to make a positive difference on that front. reporter: [indiscernible] -- house version includes
[indiscernible] you just came off a roundtable. do you think it should be a red line to the president [indiscernible]? >> the president put forward a framework he is confident can pass the house and the senate. the president proposed and campaigned on paid family leave and he will continue to. it is not just time off. it is time to do work. good work. joyful work. meaningful work. but important work. we also say as a new parent cometh thinking abut the difference that will be made by within the framework. for school, making childcare affordable for families, the
child tax credit, that's going to be huge and make such a big difference for new parents. >> can you circle back to the supply chain point? on the trucker issue, you said they should be treated like other stakeholders. >> we are very pro union. one of the things we are proud of is how this legislation will create more well paying union jobs. truckers who are unionized have more of those protections, in terms of their health and compensation. that has a lot of benefits in terms of their effectiveness. if you have an industry with 90% turnover, 90% per year turnover, at the larger employers of truckers, that's clearly an issue with the quality of the job. one tool for improving the quality of the job is union representation.
>> [indiscernible] >> what i would say is we believe and what unions can do to enhance the standing of workers in any industry. but also for independent truck drivers. it is clear that there is an issue with what happens when they get to the gate of the port, for example. that largely has to do with compensation and structures across the industry. above what the union issue speaks to. >> [indiscernible] >> we have certainly seen steps that we think are making a big difference there in terms of clearing the containers, the 24-7 operations. the bottom line is, it is not that the ports are moving less goods, they are moving more goods than ever, it still that it's not keeping up with the demand.
-- it is still that it's whenever you have enormous pressure on a system, that's where you find the leaks in the system. l.a. long beach, 40% of the containers coming in. anywhere including 1,000 miles inland, some multimodelal facility that is gummed up. anywhere in the country you can see these issues. >> is it moving -- >> not a matter of the bottleneck. anywhere, literally anywhere in our economy there is a relationship between manufacturer, shipper and retailer. there are 1,000 points in that chain where something can go wrong. we are seeing those points reveal themselves because of the enormous demand, the constraints on supply, the outdated infrastructure it all runs across and the fact that the pandemic is poking holes in all of the above, the other thing that i think is important to point out, having seen shortages, starting with toilet