Portman Op-Ed in Barron’s: Infrastructure Deal Will Shred Red Tape

In a new op-ed for Barron’s, Senator Portman, Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, discusses the important permitting reforms included in the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act – the landmark bipartisan billion infrastructure legislation which he led and which recently passed the Senate by a bipartisan vote of 69-30. 

Permits from various government agencies are often a necessary prerequisite for breaking ground on a wide variety of critical projects, such as building new highways or expanding broadband networks. However, receiving the requisite permits is often a long and arduous process due to bureaucratic delays and other red tape. This slowdown results in lost time and money, as well as potentially unsafe infrastructure if needed repairs cannot be completed. That is why making substantive permitting reforms to make this process more efficient has been a long-standing goal for many, including Senator Portman. 

The Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act finally achieves needed breakthroughs in this area by containing a number of common-sense measures to speed up the permitting process, including making permanent Senator Portman’s bipartisan FAST-41 legislation, which created the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council that has helped make the permitting process more efficient, created hundreds of thousands of jobs, reduced unnecessary delays for covered projects, and saved billions of dollars since becoming law five years ago. The Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act lifts the current 2022 sunset for FAST-41 and expands its scope to cover more projects. 

This reform and others in this legislation will be critical to making the most of this historic investment in repairing, replacing, and upgrading our nation’s crumbling roads, bridges, and other critical infrastructure that will benefit our nation for years to come. 

Excerpts of the op-ed can be found below and the full op-ed can be found here

Infrastructure Deal Will Shred Red Tape

By U.S. Senator Rob Portman

Barron’s 

Every American experiences bureaucratic red tape at one time or another. Whether it’s long lines at the DMV, trouble navigating the healthcare system, or problems getting answers with the IRS, bureaucracy and red tape means delays, inconvenience, and added costs. 

One area where this happens is the permitting process for infrastructure improvements. Before a shovel can break ground, federal, state, and local governments require various kinds of permits to move forward in a process that can sometimes take up to a decade. 

During these delays, the need for infrastructure repairs increases, costing Americans time and money, and in many cases, resulting in continued unsafe conditions. There are even instances where millions of dollars will go towards the permitting process only for the project to fall through because the process took too long. 

I’ve worked for years to try to improve the permitting process, and since 2016, we have made significant strides in this area. While President Trump issued a number of Executive Orders to improve the permitting process, the administration was never able to work with Congress to give these executive actions the force of law to help them stand the test of time. 

Now we have a chance to do just that by enacting the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act, which contains important permitting reforms. The Senate recently passed this legislation and the House should do the same. This would be a tremendous achievement, allowing the federal dollar to be stretched further for infrastructure projects. 

… 

Taken together, these permitting reforms will make a real difference in reducing the time and cost for major infrastructure projects. After years of trying, we have managed to secure these essential reforms in a historic infrastructure bill that will also create jobs, increase wages, and grow the economy over the long-term – all without raising taxes or increasing inflation. These permitting reforms represent an important victory for the American people, and I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and both the House and the Senate until they are signed into law. 

###