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Infrastructure bill unnecessarily on life support

By |  October 20, 2021
Photo:

Yanik

Is the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act headed for the woodshed?

The likelihood of that happening increased significantly when the U.S. House of Representatives was supposed to vote on the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that passed the Senate by a sizable margin back in August.

But the House let an end-of-September opportunity to vote on the bill pass not just once, but twice. After that debacle, it’s clear infrastructure is linked to a reconciliation bill that’s not only divided Democrats and Republicans, but two factions of the Democratic Party.

The reconciliation bill as constructed is being reported as a $3.5 trillion measure. Some Republicans argue reconciliation will fundamentally reshape America for the worse. The bill can be passed in the Senate down party lines if every Democrat votes “yes,” but at least two Senate Democrats – Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema – made clear that the $3.5 trillion price tag must come down dramatically if they’re to put their weight behind it.

Unquestionably, new negotiation must take place for reconciliation to pass. It’s no certainty that it will, and that possibly leaves infrastructure in the dust along with it.

Reflection

How is this where we are in 2021? And how have we gone this long without a significant investment being made on top of our standard surface transportation funding?

By far, the U.S. has the biggest economy in the world. And yet, our elected officials over the years allowed our infrastructure to decay, in too many cases, to mediocrity.

Photo: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

U.S. bridges received a C grade in the American Society of Civil Engeineers’ 2021 Report Card – a decline from its C+ grade from 2017. Photo: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

There’s a case that not making a significant infrastructure investment at this stage is purely neglect. But politics continue to rue the day, with infrastructure currently caught in the crosshairs of vastly differing agendas.

If not now for infrastructure, when? The day is coming when an accident the scale of the I-35 bridge collapse bears down on us once again. When it does, our elected officials will undoubtedly hustle to the nearest microphone and insist “now is the time” to make a historic investment in the nation’s infrastructure.

We are well past that time, though. The time for investment was years ago. Multiple administrations ago. And the longer we delay, the more we set ourselves back – not just economically, but from a safety standpoint.

The federal government’s top responsibility is to keep the American people safe and secure from foreign and domestic threats. Our representatives, after all, “solemnly swear” to protect the Constitution the moment they take office. In an effect, that means keeping U.S. citizens safe. So making strategic investments in our infrastructure is critical to carrying out this federal duty.

I’m not ready to say the infrastructure bill is dead, but our officials clearly need a reminder about one of their core responsibilities. Let’s hope they heed words like these and, at the end of the day, do the right thing.

Kevin Yanik

About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is the editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry magazine. Yanik can be reached at 216-706-3724 or kyanik@northcoastmedia.net.

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