Time For A Bipartisan Approach to Overcome Biggest Infrastructure Bill Challenge: How To Fund It

Lawmakers from both political parties can agree that we need better infrastructure. To achieve that goal, however, Congress must take a bipartisan approach to overcome the biggest challenge of passing an infrastructure bill—how to fund it.

Yesterday’s U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee Hearing “Our Nation’s Crumbling Infrastructure and the Need for Immediate Action” was a step toward that end that asked the hard questions about funding. Witnesses representing both business and organized labor agreed that the time is now to modernize the user fees that fund our infrastructure. The National Association of Manufacturers believes that this funding mechanism will be a key component to an infrastructure package, and the NAM-led Infrastructure Working Group brought 150 diverse trade association together with the same message in February.

How Congress proceeds with an infrastructure package will have broad economic implications. According to the NAM Outlook Survey released earlier this week, manufacturers have recorded nine consecutive quarters of record optimism, thanks in part to pro-growth policies—and tax reform in particular. Tax reform has already helped manufacturers invest more, hire more and pay workers more. Yet, as this quarter’s survey also showed, rolling back tax reform—as some have previously suggested to pay for infrastructure—would have the opposite impact. No one wants that. To keep the momentum for manufacturing and our economy going, we need to keep moving forward on all fronts. That means doing infrastructure the right way, and last week the NAM released manufacturers’ blueprint for how to get there.

Our “Building to Win” plan envisions robust investments to repair and reinvigorate the infrastructure that makes the American Dream possible. Our plan calls for and outlines potential solutions to recurring funding shortages, such as indexing or increasing the federal fuel tax as well as introducing a vehicle mile traveled fees. “Building to Win” is based off a principle that forms the bedrock of our infrastructure system—namely that transportation networks should be funded through user fees paid by the companies and individuals who typically use and benefit from them.

Tuesday, while speaking at the NAM Spring 2019 Board of Directors Meeting, Vice President Mike Pence said “This president and our administration are absolutely committed to rebuilding the infrastructure of America. It is time for a major bill from the Congress to rebuild the roads and bridges and ports and highways of America.” And yesterday, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA), agreed, saying, “We have a real opportunity to do something really big.” Manufacturers agree—in fact, the NAM Outlook Survey showed a large majority of manufacturers saying that passage of a major infrastructure bill would positively impact their company’s business plans and outlook. Now what’s needed is for both parties in Washington to come together to get infrastructure done in a smart, bipartisan way that keeps manufacturing’s optimism strong and our country’s economy moving forward. We’ll continue working with members of both parties to get that done.

Catie Kawchak

Director, Infrastructure, Innovation, and HR Policy at National Association of Manufacturers
Catie Kawchak is the Director of Infrastructure, Innovation, and HR Policy with the National Association of Manufacturers. Prior to joining the NAM, Catie was Representative Lou Barletta’s Senior Legislative Assistant and was responsible for managing all of his work on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Catie is a graduate of Calvin College and she has her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science with a minor in Economics.

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