Pallone Floor Statement on H.R. 3684, the INVEST in America Act
Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) delivered the following remarks on the House Floor today during consideration of H.R. 3684, the INVEST in America Act:
Madam Speaker, the INVEST in America Act marks an important first step forward on President Biden’s jobs agenda. This legislation invests in surface and water infrastructure to create jobs, revitalize the economy, and improve public health. I appreciate all the hard work that Chair DeFazio and the members of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee have done to make our transportation sector greener and more equitable. And I am proud of the important drinking water legislation and vehicle safety legislation that is included in this bill that came out of my Committee, the Energy and Commerce Committee.
The drinking water provisions of this bill combine two pieces of legislation, the AQUA Act of 2021, authored by Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee Chairman Tonko, and the Low-Income Water Customer Assistance Programs Act of 2021, led by Representatives Blunt-Rochester, Katko, Dingell, and Tlaib.
Safe drinking water is one of our most fundamental human rights – yet right now, millions of Americans across the country cannot trust that the water coming out of their taps is safe. That is simply unacceptable, and it’s why the INVEST in America Act invests $117 billion to address drinking water infrastructure, safety, and affordability.
The legislation increases authorizations for drinking water programs by more than $80 billion, including funding to replace lead service lines nationwide. There is no safe level of lead exposure. It comes with tremendous human health risks, and that’s why we must replace the lead service lines that deliver our water and ensure every home is safe from lead contamination. The legislation also funds water resiliency programs, school drinking water safety programs, and Tribal water programs.
Investments in drinking water infrastructure have a proven track record of creating jobs while improving public health protection. Requirements included in this bill will ensure those jobs, and those health benefits, reach environmental justice communities.
This bill will also improve drinking water safety by repairing the broken standard setting process under the Safe Drinking Water Act. We all know that we need to do more to ensure the safety of our drinking water. This bill would make targeted changes and set deadlines to empower the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set the protective drinking water standards our communities need.
And the bill provides assistance to low-income families so they can afford their water bills. Financial hardship should not stand between any family and basic access to water. This legislation creates two water assistance programs similar to the successful Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, better known as LIHEAP. We also authorize funding to reduce or eliminate customer debt and prohibit water service shutoffs for a five-year period for the participating water systems. These funds will give families peace of mind that they will continue to have access to safe, clean and affordable water.
The legislation also includes auto safety reforms that mandate proven safety technologies that could save 20,000 lives per year. In 2020 alone, vehicular crashes resulted in over 42,000 deaths. The INVEST in America Act includes a bold vision of safety and innovation that will save lives, boost domestic manufacturing, and strengthen our industrial base. The safety reforms will deploy existing, proven technologies that can have an immediate lifesaving effect, such as crash avoidance systems, drunk driving prevention technology, and systems that will put an end to children dying in hot cars.
It also includes my Five Stars for Safe Cars Act, legislation modernizing the five-star safety rating for the 21st century, providing consumers with meaningful comparative information about the safety of vehicles.
In addition to our water and auto safety provisions, there are several important amendments that will strengthen the bill even further. In particular, I urge support for an amendment from Energy Subcommittee Chairman Rush that will supercharge electric vehicle infrastructure and electric vehicle deployment. It also encourages the domestic manufacturing of electric vehicle and infrastructure components. I also urge support for Representative Dingell’s clean energy technology accelerator amendment that incorporates her bipartisan legislation with Representative Young and provides financing for clean energy infrastructure.
Madam Speaker, the INVEST in America Act is transformative legislation that focuses our investments where they belong – revitalizing and modernizing our infrastructure, creating new, good paying jobs, and taking a critical step to fulfill President Biden’s promise to Build Back Better. I urge strong bipartisan support for this legislation today.