Michigan, Maryland governors to testify on new U.S. infrastructure push

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By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. Senate panel will hold a hearing on Wednesday on efforts to boost crumbling U.S. transport infrastructure, which will include testimony from two key governors

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, a Republican, will be among those testifying at the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) hearing titled “Building Back Better: Investing in Transportation while Addressing Climate Change, Improving Equity, and Fostering Economic Growth and Innovation”

Whitmer won attention in 2018 when she successfully ran for governor using the slogan “Fix the Damn Roads.”

Hogan as chair of the National Governors Association launched a national initiative focused on fixing U.S. infrastructure and released a report noting “Americans have lost countless hours of their lives in soul-crushing traffic.”

President Joe Biden has made modernizing aging U.S. infrastructure a key priority after his predecessor Donald Trump failed to win approval from Congress for major upgrades.

Biden plans to ask Congress in coming weeks to invest heavily in infrastructure amid studies showing close to half of U.S. roads are in poor or mediocre condition and more than a third of U.S. bridges need repair, replacement or significant rehabilitation.

Earlier this month, Biden met with top leaders of the Senate EPW committee.

While infrastructure investment is viewed as a bipartisan issue, Trump and congressional leaders failed to agree on a major bill to repair and replace aging and dangerous bridges, airports, water pipes and other projects.

Funding has been a point of contention in recent years after Congress abandoned a decades-old policy of using fuel tax revenue to largely pay for infrastructure repairs. In 2019, Trump and Democratic congressional leaders agreed to spend $2 trillion over a decade, but the Republican president never proposed any new revenue source to pay for upgrades.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and Victoria Sheehan, president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation who heads the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, will also testify Wednesday.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)