Washington, D.C. – On Monday, April 13th, Alaska Congressman Don Young met with President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and a bipartisan, bicameral group of colleagues to discuss the President’s proposed infrastructure legislation, and to share his expertise and experience. During his tenure as Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Congressman Young successfully passed a bipartisan infrastructure package that was signed into law. His legislation, SAFETEA-LU, implemented a federal highway funding formula to the great benefit of Alaska; the bill’s formula is still in use today. Meeting attendees included Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE), Senator Roger Wicker (R-MI), Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA), Congressman Garrett Graves (R-LA), Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr (D-NJ), and Congressman David Price (D-NC).
Following the Oval Office meeting, Congressman Young issued the following statement:
“On Monday, I had the privilege of attending a productive meeting in the Oval Office with President Biden and Vice President Harris. I want to thank them for hosting my colleagues and me to discuss this country’s infrastructure challenges. We must find a path forward on federal infrastructure investment, and I believe we can do it.
As Chairman of the Transportation Committee, I was very proud when we were able to get a significant bipartisan package signed into law during my tenure, and I believe we can do it again. President Biden shared my optimism that there is an appetite for bipartisanship, and I appreciated that he listened to my ideas on the scope of the bill and funding mechanisms. We must be very cautious about the goals of this bill and even the very definition of infrastructure. Roads, bridges, and ports are undoubtedly infrastructure, and I believe that energy grids, broadband, and clean water can fit the definition as well.
But I have concern that moving too far beyond this framework could sink the bill. We also must make sure that this bill is paid for, and I was very upfront with the President that we should be taking a second look at the gasoline tax, and consider implementing a vehicle mileage tax. These may be unpopular positions with some, but both sides must be willing to set aside sacred cows and collaborate for the good of the American people. If there is not a serious funding source, we will not have a serious bill. We are very early in this process, and no legislative text currently exists. This meeting was a starting point, and the President and my colleagues agreed that urgent action is needed.
I am grateful to the President for asking me to share my perspective and expertise, and I look forward to continuing to work with those on both sides of the aisle who want to make sure that America’s infrastructure is firing on all cylinders in the 21st Century and beyond.”