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Thune-chaired Commerce Committee hosts historic hearing on infrastructure

WASHINGTON -- For the first time since 2001, five cabinet secretaries offered testimony before a Senate committee, and South Dakota's own U.S. Sen. John Thune was there for that slice of history.

WASHINGTON - For the first time since 2001, five cabinet secretaries offered testimony before a Senate committee, and South Dakota's own U.S. Sen. John Thune was there for that slice of history.

The five secretaries participated in a hearing titled, "Rebuilding Infrastructure in America: Administration Perspectives." The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation hosted the hearing, a committee which is chaired by Thune.

On hand to discuss the future of infrastructure in America were Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

Thune kicked off the hearing by sharing issues his home state faces, including lack of access to reliable high-speed internet or aging transportation between agricultural communities and their increasingly global markets. And he said President Donald Trump's $1.5 trillion investment in infrastructure over the next decade would be of benefit.

"The proposal would speed project delivery and lower construction costs, by limiting the permitting process to two years and reforming workforce training programs," Thune said on Capitol Hill Wednesday. "The participation of five cabinet Secretaries at today's hearing - something that is extraordinarily rare on Capitol Hill - underscores the Administration's readiness and enthusiasm to work closely with the Commerce Committee and the rest of Congress on infrastructure."

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In Thune's eyes, improved infrastructure should have bipartisan support. He said both Democrats and Republicans want investment in modern infrastructure where issues like broadband and waterways are addressed, not just roads and bridges.

"As exemplified by Ranking Member (U.S. Sen. Bill) Nelson's willingness to work with me on infrastructure legislation, both sides can come together on this," Thune said.

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