Rep. Peter DeFazio discusses infrastructure, train safety, and new tax plan

Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio stopped by KEZI 9 News Wednesday to talk about infrastructure, train safety, and the new tax plan.

Posted: Dec 27, 2017 6:54 PM
Updated: Dec 27, 2017 7:15 PM

EUGENE, Ore. - Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio stopped by KEZI 9 News Wednesday to talk about infrastructure, train safety, and the new tax plan.


Rep. Peter DeFazio wants to see more done to improve the nation's infrastructure.

So far this year, DeFazio said he's introduced three bills to invest $560 billion in infrastructure, specifically surface transportation and airports. Now, he's waiting on the trump administration to make a move.

DeFazio said there are bridges on the coast that need repair, as well as bridges that need to be retrofitted and rebuilt to withstand the mega-quake that could hit Oregon at any time.

"We're not ready for the big quake. We have only made modest improvements. We have schools that are going to collapse. Minimally, we want it to withstand the earthquake enough to not crush the kids," said Rep. DeFazio.

DeFazio's plans would index the federal gas tax so it could never go up more than a cent and half per gallon. It would also bond $500 billion to put into the infrastructure system.

Train Safety

The investigation into the deadly Amtrak train derailment last week that killed three people in DuPont, Washington continues.

DeFazio said positive train control (PTC) could have prevented the derailment from happening. It was mandated by congress years ago, with a 2018 deadline. PTC is equipment that can automatically slow down trains going over the speed limit.

He admitted PTC is expensive, but it would save lives, saying the federal government has been a "crummy partner" in helping passenger rails like Amtrak invest in it.

DeFazio said the Trump administration could extending the deadline to 2020, "which is unacceptable, as predictably given this most recent accident. Positive training control would have prevented that accident. At first, he was coming into the curve too quickly. At first, it would have sounded an alarm and if he didn't take action, the computer would take over and stop the train."

He said the Republican Congress has been cutting funding to help Amtrak make this investment, but Amtrak plans to have PTC on its entire system in 2018.

New Tax Plan

President Trump took to Twitter to praise the new GOP tax cut bill, saying it will be a great year for companies and jobs. But DeFazio disagrees.

After the new tax plan passed, DeFazio called it a "dark week for the American people." He said the tax breaks in this plan will skyrocket our national debt and only give a small amount to the middle class.

DeFazio said 83 percent of the benefits go to Americans making over $400,000 a year while over half of America's middle class will see a tax increase.

He said the plan cuts taxes for large corporations, which will not create jobs or increase wages and the states that voted against Trump in the presidential election will get tax penalties.

"The Republicans specifically targeted the blue states in this. The states that voted for Trump got tax penalties. The states that don't invest in education, don't invest in infrastructure, don't invest in healthcare...the Alabama’s of the world, they're getting a big tax break," said DeFazio.

He notes the tax legislation made it through the house and senate without a single democratic vote and said if republicans didn't have control of the house, it wouldn't have passed.

DeFazio said he hopes the democrats will regain control of the house after the special election in 2018. If they do, he said the first targets will be tax breaks for the upper class.

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