The 115th Congress has the opportunity to leverage unprecedented public and bipartisan support to address our nation’s infrastructure challenges, and we will have a pivotal opportunity in the coming year to turn the tide.
This is a guest post by Rep. Garret Graves.
America’s infrastructure was recently reviewed by the American Society of Civil Engineers, which graded the overall condition of our ports, bridges, roads and more a D+. I shouldn’t have to put a finer point on it, but I will. A D+ is an unsatisfactory and unacceptable grade for such vital assets. Reliable and safe infrastructure is critical to the security, efficiency and economic development of our communities, states and nation as a whole. The growing gap between our needs and appropriate investment will only serve to make us less competitive in a global environment.
We now find ourselves at a tipping point, with potentially grave consequences for our economy, jobs and communities. The time is now to build a new generation of American infrastructure, to change course after decades of deferred maintenance and underfunding, and to make smart investments that put our country on solid footing to compete and win in a 21st century economy. The 115th Congress has the opportunity to leverage unprecedented public and bipartisan support to address our nation’s infrastructure challenges, and we will have a pivotal opportunity in the coming year to turn the tide.
President Donald Trump has made investment in infrastructure a top priority — one that is echoed by Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao and by leadership in the House and Senate. As we anticipate a large legislative infrastructure initiative later this Congress, I find myself thinking about what we should be focused on today to pave the way for a truly productive and impactful bill.
Two key things stand out to me. First, we must do our best to reduce the regulatory underbrush that is holding back investment in infrastructure. I want to be clear: I am not suggesting we disregard the environment or public safety. However, we must commit to a streamlined and stable regulatory environment if we are truly serious about delivering projects and programs. If we don’t, we will continue to study and debate our way into decline. Second, we must employ prioritization criteria for infrastructure projects using appropriate metrics. Without principled decision-making informed by relevant data, we will continue to throw dimes at one-dollar problems, and we will fail to make any real progress.
As a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and chairman of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, I am committed to laying the foundation for a transformational infrastructure investment plan. The need is great: our nation’s roads, bridges, airports, waterways, levees, coastal projects, safety, security, economy and global competitiveness hang in the balance. The debate is over, the grade is in, and the time to act is now.
Featured image from Getty Images.
About the author: Congressman Garret Graves represents Louisiana’s Sixth Congressional District — 13 parishes stretching north of Baton Rouge through the Capital Region down to Louisiana’s Bayou country. He sits on the House Committees on Transportation and Infrastructure.