Updating our nation’s infrastructure has long been an issue that has brought together lawmakers from both sides of the aisle. The president’s State of the Union address this week recharged the need for an infrastructure package, and it was declared an imperative for this Congress. Democrats and Republicans must work together to pass a 21st-century infrastructure proposal that will build a better future our nation—expanding our economy, growing jobs and allowing the U.S. to more effectively compete globally.
The Infrastructure Working Group, led by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the Associated General Contractors (AGC), united 150 manufacturing, construction, agriculture and finance trade associations, labor unions and local government groups to urge congressional leadership to work together to develop and advance an infrastructure investment package that will improve the safety, reliability and efficiency of our nation’s infrastructure. The letter encourages Republicans and Democrats to unite and pass a bipartisan infrastructure bill that includes six key priorities:
- Significantly increase direct federal investments in a broad range of infrastructure sectors
- Fix chronic challenges and address reoccurring shortages in key federal infrastructure accounts, such as the Highway Trust Fund
- Complement and strengthen existing tools, such as municipal bonds, that successfully deliver infrastructure investments at the federal, state and local levels
- Facilitate opportunities for private investment in U.S. infrastructure
- Create efficiencies such as accelerating the federal permitting process, while continuing to provide environmental protections
- Encourage active participation among all levels of government and between public and private sectors without shifting federal responsibilities because no single partner can deliver a well-functioning, national U.S. infrastructure network driven by a long-term vision and funding stability
Similarly, Rich McCardle, President of UPS Freight expressed optimism and a strong call for action while here in Washington, D.C. this week. He said, “It is going to take courage of elected officials and the administration,” but, “the continued cost of doing nothing is so much more than the cost of taking action and doing something.” According to The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), deficient bridges, congested highways, outdated transit systems, unreliable electric grids and leaky water pipes cost every American family an average of $9 a day.
New members of the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) discussed the need to upgrade America’s infrastructure in the Committee’s first hearing yesterday: “The Cost of Doing Nothing: Why Investing in Our National’s Infrastructure Cannot Wait.” State governors, city mayors and business leaders—including Rich McCardle—agreed that the time to invest and modernize America’s infrastructure is now.
Manufacturers, Congress and the president all agree the failure to upgrade U.S. infrastructure threatens U.S. economic competitiveness. Now is the time for the business community, labor organizations, Republicans and Democrats to work together to pass an infrastructure bill.
Robyn Boerstling is the Vice President of Infrastructure, Innovation and Human Resources Policy at the National Association of Manufacturers.