Transportation and Trade
“Global trade is critical to growing the economy, spurring job creation, and maintaining relationships around the world.”
SUMMARY OF STANCE
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. The Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles comprise, the busiest port complex in the Western Hemisphere, and are responsible for handling nearly 35 percent of all of containerized goods that come into the United States from other countries. As a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in the House of Representative one of my main goals in Congress is to ensure these Ports maintain their efficiency and global competitiveness.
RELATED ACTIONS AND LEGISLATION
Introducing legislation is just one action that a member of Congress can take to address a concern or issue that impacts constituents. House Members can also introduce Congressional resolutions calling on the House (or even the full Congress) as a body to recognize or support a certain event or position on an issue. Members can write letters to government leaders requesting they take certain action, hold hearings with expert panels to address issues, work with colleagues at the committee level on specific issues, or even make direct in-person appeals to other Members or officials in the government. Here are a few examples of how I have taken action on this issue.
National Freight Policy
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.
The United States 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,” 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 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.
CAUCUSES OR MEMBERSHIPS RELATED TO ISSUE
I serve as the Co-Chair of the Ports Caucus which was formed to promote the importance of our nation’s ports with regard to our nation’s economy and the need to secure them by promoting dialogue between Congress, the Administration and relevant federal agencies, as well as important industry officials.
Congressional Maritime Caucus
The Congressional Maritime Caucus is a devoted ally of all components of the maritime industry and aims to tailor our maritime policy to meet the challenges of the 21st century by empowering the industry with the tools necessary to increase GDP and expand exports. The Caucus works to raise awareness among members of Congress on a broad range of maritime-related topics.
Congressional Panama Canal Expansion Caucus
The Congressional Panama Canal Expansion Caucus provides an opportunity for Members of Congress to examine the way our nation’s ports, transportation systems and infrastructure networks are preparing, as well as the economic impacts that will result from the expansion.
For more information concerning my work and views on trade and transportation, please contact me.
More on Transportation and Trade
Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) joined with Rep. Brenda Lawrence (MI-14) and major goods movement leaders from both the public and private sector in calling for immediate action by Congress to pass a surface transportation reauthorization bill that specifically includes dedicated funding for rebuilding and upgrading our nation's crumbling freight infrastructure.
"Our local, regional, and national economies—to the tune of more than $1 billion a day—depend on the efficient and timely flow of goods through the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.
Congressman Alan Lowenthal has helped secure an additional $7.74 million for much-needed dredging of the Queensway Bay channel, which sits at the mouth of the Los Angeles River in Long Beach. The funding is in addition to more than $5 million already secured by the Congressman and the City of Long Beach for initial dredging work, which is set to begin soon. All told, the combined funding will allow the U.S.
Congressman Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) has introduced legislation aimed at strengthening America's economic competitiveness by providing a dedicated revenue source to invest in our national freight infrastructure.
The Congressman's bill, H.R.5624, Economy in Motion: The National Multimodal and Sustainable Freight Infrastructure Act, would dedicate roughly $8 billion a year to freight-related infrastructure projects throughout the nation, with a focus on intermodal projects and projects that help relieve the bottlenecks in the freight transportation system.
Since it was built in the 1940s, the three-section federal breakwater stretching from San Pedro to Long Beach Harbor has protected the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, as well as the Long Beach coastline, from storms and the destructive waves they can generate.
This week, I voted for a bill to refund the Highway Trust Fund (HTF). This bill is only a short term fix to keep the fund from becoming insolvent in coming months; Going forward, Congress must do the hard work of developing a sustainable funding source for our nation's transportation infrastructure.
As you may know, all gasoline sold in the United States includes a flat federal tax of 33.4 cents per gallon. The funds from this tax go directly to the HTF, which pays for road and transit projects across the country.