Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to testify before a congressional subcommittee on how innovative materials can improve the resiliency of our transportation infrastructure. It was a great experience to be able to promote composite materials and to see our legislative process up close.
The hearing was called by the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the Committee on Science, Space and Technology for the US House of Representatives. The four witnesses came from different parts of the infrastructure network, including a representative from the New York City Mayor’s Office of Resiliency; the director of the Texas A&M Transportation Institute; the Chief of Materials and Structural Systems at NIST, and myself, representing the American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA).
I submitted written testimony prior to the hearing. With the help of others at ACMA, I described the benefits of composite materials and many applications where composites are improving transportation infrastructure and providing resiliency to the severe weather that our nation experiences more and more frequently. I also encouraged members of the subcommittee to support the two House bills that ACMA advocates. One is HR 2393 to fund NIST as a clearinghouse of composites information. The other is the IMAGINE Act (HR 1159) which provides funding for using innovative materials in bridges and infrastructure. This may be composite materials or any other newer material that provides longer life than traditional materials. From this written submittal, I had to get down to a five minute oral testimony.
The hearing opened with Chairwoman Sherrill of New Jersey making opening remarks and Ranking Member Norman of South Carolina adding his opening remarks. Each witness had five minutes for oral testimony with a countdown clock in front of us. After that, all committee members had five minutes to ask questions and talk about the aspects important to them. I had questions to answer, which implies that they are interested in innovative materials. There were questions about how the federal government could help promote and deploy longer lasting materials. Since infrastructure is a bipartisan issue, the questions were technical; not political. During the hearing, some committee members float in and out. I appreciated how Congresswoman Sherrill and Congressman Norman were around before and after the hearing to ask more questions and discuss issues.
I enjoy participating in ACMA’s annual infrastructure day on Capitol Hill and seeing part of the process. Testifying was very educational and took me one step further in observing the legislative process.