State of the Union

Full length interview with Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.)

Rep. Peter DeFazio, ranking member of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, discusses the potential for a bipartisan effort on infrastructure legislation.


Monica Trauzzi: Congressman, the president tonight indirectly mentioned Keystone XL calling on Congress to not debate just one pipeline and rather focus on a bipartisan effort on infrastructure. Do you think that's possible?

Rep. Peter DeFazio: Well, there's a lot of talk around here about infrastructure and the need to invest in our nation's crumbling infrastructure. It solves a number of problems. Makes us obviously -- puts a lot of people back to work very quickly. We have strong Buy America requirements and that helps with the job effort. It would make the country more competitive internationally. It would help us with our problems with energy and with carbon pollution, because when people sit and idle in traffic and the roads are congested, that's a problem. So investment in infrastructure could have tremendous returns and it has historically been bipartisan. I would hope we can get back to that.

Monica Trauzzi: Are you confident that this Congress can move that?

Rep. Peter DeFazio: Well, I know the chairman of the committee very much wants to do a major six-year service transportation bill, and also a Federal Aviation Administration bill that will give planes more latitude in terms of the routes they choose in the future to save fuel in the sky. So both of those would be great investments for the future. They're going to cost some money, and that's going to be the problem on the Republican side of the aisle. They don't seem to be able to discriminate between spending and investment. When you invest in a bridge that lasts 100 years, why do you count it the same as one year's consumption? You shouldn't. If you invest in something that makes us more competitive, more fuel-efficient, that should count more than some other federal program that's just transitory. So it'll be an interesting discussion. It won't be easy, but I hope we can get there.

Monica Trauzzi: Climate change was a major focus of the speech. In particular, the president talked about the science behind climate change. Do you think he changed any minds in Congress?

Rep. Peter DeFazio:: Well, I didn't see many Republicans giving a standing ovation when he talked about climate change, alternate energy and those. He sort of did manage to get them up at one point when he talked about us being less dependent on foreign sources of energy, so there was some agreement there. But not so much. There's tremendous denial on the other side of the aisle about climate change. So what if it was the warmest year in history? Hey, one year's warm, next year's cold, it's going to snow tomorrow, they're like -- science isn't too high on their list.

Monica Trauzzi: All right, congressman, thank you for your time.

Rep. Peter DeFazio: Sure.

[End of Audio]



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