A bipartisan plan has been reached. Now it’s time for all government leaders to pass it through Congress before it’s too late.
By Alexa Moreno Perdomo
After what felt like The Neverending Story, a bipartisan deal has finally been reached. According to CNN, the new agreement is for $1.2 trillion with $579 billion in new spending. While it required massive changes between President Biden’s original $2 trillion American Jobs Plan, it still provides important funds to the nation’s infrastructure.
For a time, it felt like bipartisanship on infrastructure was a mirage in the distance, ever evading being reached; however, it’s finally come. Compromise is never easy. In politics, it’s only found when individual egos are pushed aside and all sides of the political spectrum shed their partisan ideology and focus on what they have in common: the American people. Because regardless of whether you are in a red state or a blue state, whether you identify as a democratic socialist or a hardline Republican, infrastructure sees no political affiliation.
The fact of the matter is that America cannot afford to wait any more on infrastructure repairs and upgrades. It made headline news after the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) released their 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure and rated it with an overall score of “C-”, which mind you was an improvement over the past score of “D+” from 2017. While the improvement demonstrated that local, state and federal leadership were recognizing the critical role that infrastructure plays in supporting daily life and the economy, 11 out of 17 categories still received grades in the “D” range, including transit, wastewater, roads, dams and more. With a score like that, the country was on the edge of having infrastructure that could not only severely inconvenience residents and require constant patch work maintenance, but also could potentially cause fatal consequences to the people it was meant to serve.
“We have not made significant enough investments to maintain infrastructure that in some cases was built more than 50 years ago. As this study shows, we risk significant economic losses, higher costs to consumers, businesses and manufacturers – and our quality of life – if we don’t act urgently. When we fail to invest in infrastructure, we pay the price,” said ASCE Executive Director Thomas Smith.
According to Jake Blumgart in Governing.com, only 2.4% of American gross domestic product (GDP) is applied to the nation’s infrastructure, whereas the European Union applies 5% and China applies 9%.
In this past year alone, there have been numerous instances of potentially hazardous situations due to ageing and outdated infrastructure. In Memphis, TN, the Interstate-40 bridge had to be emergency closed after a contractor for the Arkansas Transportation Department found a large crack in the steel support that could have caused the bridge to fail, according to The Wall Street Journal. The crack was missed in two previous inspections. If it had failed, it would have caused massive human loss on the bridge, which sees about 40,000 cars and trucks a day.
What is certain is that Americans are tired of waiting and constituents deserve to see a massive infrastructure overhaul. It is time for political affiliation to step aside and for the American people as a whole to be put first.”
Beyond simple structural failures, infrastructure is in need of upgrades technologically. Society has vastly progressed since a lot of the infrastructure we currently have was first built and while it has worked so far, it is incredibly vulnerable. The cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline is just one example of what could happen to many different infrastructure facets if we do not increase oversight and help fund technological improvements to the nation’s infrastructure.
The ASCE report estimated that the nation was in need of $2.59 trillion in infrastructure funding over 10 years, or $259 billion per year, or risk the economy losing $10 trillion in growth and more than 3 million lost jobs. While the newly drafted bipartisan agreement does not meet that demand entirely, it is a start.
The battle is far from over. The rest of Congress still needs to agree to the plan and that in and of itself is going to be difficult. Democrats have already started expressing their displeasure with certain aspects of the plan, specifically the removal of parts of the original American Jobs Plan that they deemed essential to the growth of the nation. In addition, President Biden’s approval of the bipartisan deal only came with the contingency that a “human infrastructure” plan must be passed alongside it.
Only time will tell how long it takes for the bill to pass, or if it will experience even more adversity on its way through Congress. What is certain is that Americans are tired of waiting and constituents deserve to see a massive infrastructure overhaul. It is time for political affiliation to step aside and for the American people as a whole to be put first. It is time for our leaders to remember that they work for the American people and thus should do what is in the best interest of the people.
Alexa Moreno Perdomo is the assistant editor of American Infrastructure Magazine. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.