“California’s transportation system is essential to the flow of goods not just to our state, but to the entire nation; and our nation’s trade relations play a key role in this system. Global trade is critical to growing the economy, spurring job creation, and maintaining relationships around the world. The Long Beach/Los Angeles port complex, the busiest port complex in the Western Hemisphere, is responsible for handling nearly 35 percent of all of containerized goods that come into the United States from other countries. My goal in Congress is to ensure these Ports maintain their efficiency and global competitiveness.”
Our nation’s maritime ports, advanced rail systems, and efficient interconnected highways took careful planning and considerable funding, and they put the United States at the forefront of public, private, and even military transportation. Unfortunately, our once prized system, integral to our country’s economic vitality, is in serious need of an overhaul. We must develop a dedicated revenue stream to protect and enhance our goods movement infrastructure investment.
This is why I have cosponsored H.R.535, the Put America Back to Work Act, which would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to permanently extend the Build America Bonds program. This would put Americans back to work by investing money in state and local government efforts to rebuild critical components of our national infrastructure. I also wrote a letter to the Secretary of Transportation supporting a federal grant application by the METRANS Transportation Center, which is the first University Transportation Center in Southern California. The grant of $1,414,100 was subsequently awarded to CSULB and USC, and it will go to fund transportation-related research science through the joint CSULB/USC University Transportation Center.
National Freight Policy
Our nation is one of the most interconnected in the world and I believe we need a national freight policy that connects states and regions in the most efficient, cost-effective, and environmentally conscious way possible. This policy should fully utilize the competitiveness and emerging technologies coming out of our ports. As a member of the Congressional Ports Caucus, I am working to make California’s Ports among the greenest, busiest, most efficient, and competitive in the country. I am also a member of the Congressional Maritime Caucus, which aims to tailor our maritime policy to meet the challenges of the 21st century by empowering the industry with the tools necessary to increase our gross domestic product (GDP) and expand exports.
This is why I authored and introduced H.R. 1308, Economy in Motion: The National Multimodal Freight Infrastructure Act. This legislation will provide a dedicated and sustainable revenue source to fund multi-modal, freight-specific formula grants to states and a multi-modal, freight-specific competitive grant program to local, regional and state governments.
I also cosponsored H.R. 2553, the National Infrastructure Development Bank Act of 2013, to create a consistent funding source for infrastructure projects through a National Infrastructure Development Bank, and H.R.3040, the Safe Freight Act, which would improve railway safety to eliminate the risky practice of single-person train crews.
Another critical piece to the puzzle of achieving a robust transportation system is a well-planned mass transit system. I have always been a strong supporter of mass transit, which provides essential services to millions of Americans and reduces excess congestion and pollution. I believe that all residents should have access to safe and well-maintained public transportation. Our country needs smart transportation solutions that reduce congestion and break our carbon dependence.
Cycling and Pedestrian Safety
To further ensure the safety of our transportation system, I cosponsored a bike and pedestrian safety bill, H.R. 3494, which would advise the Department of Transportation to create separate performance metrics for non-motorized and motorized transportation in an effort to encourage states to reduce bicyclist and pedestrian fatality rates.? I am also a cosponsor of H.R. 3978, the New Opportunities for Bicycle and Pedestrian Infrastructure Financing Act, which authorizes the Secretary of Transportation to establish a pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure credit assistance pilot program.
We must always fund unique ways to promote safety and work to increase our options for bus and rail transit, walking, biking, and transit-oriented development. Congress must expand our country’s infrastructure projects and focus on the transportation needs of future generations. Today’s society demands a functioning and robust infrastructure that is capable of creating vibrant, safe, and livable communities for all Americans. I remain committed to making this attainable goal a reality.
As the representative of the Port of Long Beach, promoting trade and growing our local trade-related businesses is one of my top priorities. That is why I introduced an amendment to H.R. 1409, a bill to amend the Export Enhancement Act of 1988. My amendment sought to add critical representation from state government trade development agencies on the U.S. Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC), which oversees all of the federal export promotion programs spread across the federal government. Adding critical state representation will help ensure that our federal export promotion efforts will better meet California’s unique needs.
I have concerns about the TPP including the need to ensure that we are protecting the environment, the rights of workers, and the human rights protections of potential trading partners such as Vietnam. These issues would need to be addressed before I could support such a broad and far-reaching trade agreement. However, there is no doubt that we need a robust trading relationship with important Asian partners.