In case you missed it Sunday morning, FOX 5's "On the Hill" program sat down with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg for a one-on-one interview.
The conversation spanned several topics including the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act and what it means for consumers, transportation projects happening across the DMV, and the efforts to resolve "soul crushing" traffic across the area.
INFLATION REDUCTION ACT
To begin the conversation with Secretary Buttigieg, FOX 5's Tom Fitzgerald first asked him about the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, which was signed into law by President Biden this week, and what people can expect from the bill.
"Well so many good things are coming through these legislative accomplishments. We’re hard at work, of course, delivering the bipartisan infrastructure law the president signed last year. That's everything from transit to trains to airports, ports, roads and bridges, things we count on every day," said Secretary Buttigieg. "And then with this newest good news, and I was so proud to be on hand when the president signed the Inflation Reduction Act, that’s going to make it more affordable to set up your home to be weatherproof, so you can save money on heating and cooling. Importantly, it's going to make electric vehicles more affordable because we need to make sure that the price point is lower on those EVS, so more people can get the fuel savings if they choose to go electric. And a lot of funding that's going to help us connect neighborhoods that are currently not as well-connected as they should be."
HOW THE INFLATION REDUCTION ACT HELPS CONSUMERS
The conservation then turned to how the Inflation Reduction Act will impact consumers and what it will actually do to help reduce the country's skyrocketing inflation.
"It's very clear that the inflation we're experiencing right now is largely driven by constraints on the supply side of our economy, and to take the example that's probably closest to transportation, we've seen a lot of issues with supply chains being overwhelmed, unable to keep up with the demand that is coming in, and that leads to higher shipping, the higher shipping costs are factored in higher prices," Secretary Buttigieg tells FOX 5. "So when we make investments in better transportation in better ways for goods to move to where they need to be, more of that fluidity in the way the goods move around. We know that we're also making an investment in that fight against inflation. I think that's one of the reasons why so many economists, whether we're talking about the infrastructure package or the Inflation Reduction Act, and on the Inflation Reduction Act, frankly, a lot of economists who have been very critical of this administration, in general, have spoken about the economic benefits that are going to come from having this passed."
Secretary Buttigieg also says the Inflation Reduction Act will help "dramatically reduce the federal deficit and that, because of the way interest rates work, is also something that helps in the fight against inflation."
TRAFFIC ISSUES IN THE DMV
The sit down with Secretary Buttigieg then shifted to talking about traffic issues across the DMV and what's being done to solve them.
This comes as Maryland Governor Larry Hogan is demanding the DOT reverse a decision to delay widening parts of I-270 and I-495 down to the Legion Bridge. The Federal Highway Administration is holding up approval of the environmental impact statement, which is needed for the work to move forward. In a letter to Secretary Buttigieg this month, Gov. Hogan threatened legal action if the decision isn't reversed. Buttigieg says both sides are still talking.
"I've talked to the governor about this and there's been no decision either way. There's a process to make sure that the law is being followed in how that project unfolds. Ultimately it's up to the Maryland DOT to deliver it. The Federal Highway Administration has to make sure that it conforms to the letter of the law, and that's the process they're going through right now. So I don't have any final or big news to make today but I'll tell you that our highway folks and the Maryland DOT have been in frequent contact working this project through," said Secretary Buttigieg.
A spokesperson for Gov. Larry Hogan tells FOX 5 the talks between Hogan and Buttigieg were positive, but the dispute remains in limbo as the two hope to have further discussions.
The final topic Tom Fitzgerald spoke with Secretary Buttigieg about was the Metro system in the D.C. region. Currently, the transportation system is facing a $350 million budget gap, reduced ridership and issues with railcars that could threaten to cut service or lead to increased fares.
Secretary Buttigieg says that fixing Metro is a big priority for federal officials.
"The Metro is so important to so many people, and frankly, it's also important to the smooth operation of the federal government because so many federal employees count on the Metro, so many military personnel in this region count on the Metro," explains Secretary Buttigieg. "And so it's something that we continue to watch closely and to strongly support, it’s why it’s the only transit system that actually has a direct line item in my department's budget, and we're looking right now at how to sustain the right level of supporting the request for the future, and it’s one of the reasons we're proud that the bipartisan infrastructure law that the president signed has more support for transit than at any time in the history of the United States because we know that while these systems are local, and they're usually managed on a regional basis, they also deserve federal support because of the economic benefit and just the day-to-day benefit in terms of convenience in terms of safety, and even as part of the fight against climate change that comes with making it easier for more people to take advantage of good transit."
Make sure to tune into "On The Hill" every Sunday morning on FOX 5, starting at 8:30 a.m.