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Building Bridges on Infrastructure Debate

Jun 24, 2021
Column

I believe the government should do 3 things: collect our taxes, defend the homeland, and help with infrastructure- then get out of the way. Unfortunately, years of government inaction has led to deteriorating infrastructure which has limited the nation’s economic output. According to the Government Accountability Office, one in four bridges are deficient and 14% are functionally obsolete.[1] When it comes to our country’s electrical grid, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) projects a funding gap of nearly $200 billion for the electric grid over the next decade.[2] In addition, the infrastructure needs of the people have changed in the digital age. According to a 2020 Federal Communications Commission report,[3] over 18 million Americans lack affordable access to broadband, many of whom live in rural communities throughout TX-25.

On Thursday, President Biden and a group of bipartisan senators agreed to a roughly $1 trillion infrastructure plan. Biden’s previous $6 trillion proposal was a grab bag of liberal priorities that had little to do with infrastructure but rather fulfilled a campaign promise to increase taxes and deliver the Green New Deal for the progressive wing of the Democratic party. Look no further than his desire to restrict oil and gas development, destroying investments in domestic energy production and surrendering the American energy independence gained under President Trump. Minutes after the agreement was announced, the President dumped cold water on the deal saying that he would veto it unless there were an accompanying bill that delivers all of the policies and funding stripped by the working group. This begs the question, what were these negotiations for if the President plan all along was to simultaneously advance an additional, partisan bill without any Republican support? 

Conversely, Republicans stayed focused on a more targeted and fiscally sound approach that would address our immediate infrastructure needs without raising taxes on hardworking Americans or increasing our national debt. We cannot fund vital public works project on the backs of individuals and businesses who just survived the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead any proposal going forward should prioritize public-private partnerships that establish long-term, cost-effective relationships. By getting the private sector involved, we can execute infrastructure projects that meet time and cost parameters without saddling the American people with the entirety of the bill.

The future of an infrastructure package remains unclear, as now the latest proposal will be shepherd through Congress and both sides and the White House convince their party and the public that the agreed deal is the best foot forward. As negotiations continue, we must reject short-term political pressures that get in the way of meeting the needs of the American people. Every day we wait to make the necessary investment, our communities fall further behind and the recovery costs multiply.

 



[1] https://www.gao.gov/products/gao-16-72r