The Hill: Our future depends on American infrastructure built for the people
At what feels like one of the most divisive times in modern politics, the key to building bridges and finding consensus may be actual bridges. Or repairing them, at least.
As members of Congress, we each represent different parts of this great country, and while our districts are distinct in many ways, we can all agree on one thing - infrastructure. Our constituents believe it is the duty of our government to prioritize infrastructure investments and protect and maintain this land we call home. This week, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is expected to meet with President Trump to talk about a bipartisan solution to address our country’s infrastructure challenges. And it is not lost on us that two of our nation’s leaders, with huge ideological differences, both recognize the importance of investing in our infrastructure.
Today, we are proud to re-introduce a resolution outlining what we believe should be the central priorities for any infrastructure proposal that Congress sends to the White House. Investment in our physical infrastructure, should boldly upgrade, create millions of jobs for Americans, encourage public investment, embrace clean-energy jobs, support strong worker protections, ensure worker safety and environmental protections, and prioritize resilient infrastructure. These ideas are critical to proving that, as legislators, we’re working for the people.
Across the political spectrum, the American people have spoken, and they support rebuilding our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. In Washington, there’s a reason why infrastructure revitalization has been a part of both parties’ messaging: Investing in America is a political no-brainer and the right thing to do for the future of our country. The people, along with organizations like the Millions of Jobs Coalition, have been fighting for this as they know that smart investments in infrastructure can produce millions of high-paying, blue collar jobs. Anyone who claims to be in favor of fiscal responsibility should support investing in infrastructure because if our government does not act now, it’ll cost our country in the future. Which is why our resolution has already received broad support from 90 members in the House.
From sea to shining sea, it’s clear to see why there’s so much momentum behind this resolution. Already, a fifth of the roads crisscrossing our nation are in poor condition, more than half of public schools require funding for buildings to be brought into good condition, and 19 million Americans lack broadband access. The myriad issues facing our energy, water, aviation, and other sectors, make the need for funding abundantly clear. In its most recent report card, the American Society of Civil Engineers assigned our infrastructure a ‘D+’ grade.
In our own states, challenges with infrastructure are impeding our ability to progress. Traffic-dense California contains 13 of the top 25 most traveled structurally deficient bridges in the U.S. In Illinois—a critical junction for interstate commerce—19 percent of public roads are in poor condition. In Florida, a state especially susceptible to the harms of climate change, only 2 percent of commutes to work are made via public transportation.
There are tangible consequences of inaction, and it’s the American people who are suffering. We’ve seen the horror stories of what happens when our infrastructure fails: tainted water in Flint, Mich., freezing cold schools in Baltimore, failed levees in Missouri, and the list goes on. Fixing our country's infrastructure doesn't just mean smoothing roads, repairing bridges and expanding highways. It means updating our country's drinking water pipelines, renovating and rebuilding public schools, and modernizing outmoded electrical grids to build a better, more efficient America created by and for the people.
By ensuring these priorities are met, not only will our country’s infrastructure improve, but so will the lives of Americans around the country. Our modern economy was built on strong infrastructure and we believe that’s the key to our future. Ahead of Speaker Pelosi’s meeting with the president, we believe, on behalf of our constituents, it is critical to advocate for infrastructure policy that strengthens America for generations to come. In doing so, we’ll create a roadmap for a brighter tomorrow.
Lieu represents California’s 33rd District, Krishnamoorthi represents the 8th District of Illinois and Crist represents the 13th District of Florida.