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Rep. Phillips Testifies Before House Infrastructure Committee on Needs of Minnesota's Third District

Today, Rep. Dean Phillips (MN-03) testified before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure to advocate for the infrastructure priorities of Minnesota’s Third Congressional District.

View full testimony here.

Rep. Phillips’s remarks as prepared:

Thank you, Chairman DeFazio, Ranking Member Graves, and members of the Committee for the invitation to speak with you all today.

I have the great honor of representing Minnesota’s Third Congressional District, which includes the western Twin Cities metro area and is home to the Mall of America, Paisley Park and historic Lake Minnetonka.

Our community is a microcosm of our state and region. We are suburban, exurban and rural. We are wonderfully diverse, highly educated and home to some of the most successful businesses in America, from Cargill to CH Robinson to United Health Group. Districts like ours have the tools and talent to solve the problems of the world, but we need the infrastructure to do so.

In order for the United States to build a competitive 21st century economy, Congress needs to pass a 21st century infrastructure plan. This must be a top priority of the 116th Congress. And it would make a huge difference for our community in Minnesota. 

Sincw taking office in January, my staff and I have visited with officials from nearly all of the 36 cities and towns we represent. And whether it’s a city of 371 or 84,000, the conversation quickly turns to infrastructure – from roads, bridges and transit to broadband, wastewater and energy.

Coming from a state that sends far more of our hard-earned tax dollars to Washington than we get back in federal funding, we are in dire need of investment in infrastructure. It’s time for the federal government invest in Minnesota’s future – and in doing so, America’s future.

That begins with two key Capital Invest Grant projects in my district—the Green Line extension and the Blue Line extension-- that are critical for expanding transit options for the greater Twin Cities metro area. These projects will connect people to jobs, reduce traffic congestion and spark economic development – which is why they have overwhelming support from the businesses and communities of our region.

For that reason, I ask the committee to support full funding for the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Grant Program (CIG) at the FAST Act authorized level of $2.3 billion. Full funding for this program is key to advancing projects in the CIG pipeline which includes the two projects I just mentioned.

Also, among the top concerns of my constituents is the condition and safety of Minnesota’s roads and bridges. There are numerous highways in need of funding to repair crumbling roads, add necessary lanes, and update safety measures.

Perhaps the most urgent of those projects awaiting funding is the Highway 12 corridor, commonly known as the corridor of death, as it is one of the most dangerous highways in our state.  Just last month, I was deeply saddened when a young 21-year old man lost his life on Highway 12 when he lost control of his car and crossed the center median. 

Unfortunately, stories like this are far too common, unacceptable, and preventable.  Congress needs to stop being paralyzed by partisan politics and work to fund an infrastructure bill.

The need for this legislation encompasses more than our roads, bridges, and ground transportation.

We also need to expand reliable broadband to every community in America.

We need investments in water infrastructure to ensure clean drinking water and safe and reliable wastewater systems for every community in America.

We need enhanced rail safety, to ensure our first responders can race to an incident without being stuck on the wrong side of a train, and that our communities are safe.

We need airport infrastructure. The reasonable choice is to do so through raising the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC), which doesn’t impact the federal budget and allows airports to address their needs. The status quo is just not working for our airports.

And we need investments in our electrical grid, energy storage and transmission, to ensure that the clean power of the future can reach the communities and consumers who need it.

In this year’s State of the Union address, President Trump said that he knew the need for an infrastructure package and was eager to work with the Congress. Congress must hold him to this. 

It’s time to come together and take concrete action. We need to modernize our infrastructure, find alternative funding streams to pay for these improvements, and pass legislation to send to the President’s desk. 

I am hosting a community conversation in my district about infrastructure on May 30th. I would like to extend an invitation to the Chairman, Ranking Member and members of the committee to join us.

Thank you.