On January 29, 2020, House Democrats unveiled their first infrastructure and transportation proposal. The outline calls for a $760 billion investment, over the next five years, for projects ranging from transit, to air travel, to water. While both sides of the aisle agree that investments in our nation’s infrastructure should be a priority, Democrats have failed to provide a way to pay for this massive proposal and included partisan policy initiatives that will likely never be enacted into law.
A Partisan Infrastructure Plan Would Bust the Federal Budget. The House Majority’s plan would undoubtedly harm the American taxpayer and, as with other irresponsible spending proposals, lawmakers endorsing this strategy have failed to offer a viable way to pay for it. Since our nation is facing trillion-dollar deficits and a national debt of over $23 trillion, it is critical that new spending initiatives are budgeted for in a responsible manner.
A Partisan Infrastructure Plan is Unworkable. Not only would this proposal bust the federal budget, its policies and mandates would also impose major burdens and unrealistic expectations on state and local governments. For example, the policy outline notes that states would be required to measure greenhouse gas pollution and ensure “a transportation system that is green, affordable…and provides access to jobs” by investing “heavily in transit and zero emission buses to reduce greenhouse gas pollution.” These requirements would likely impose additional costs on state and local governments, not to mention the challenges of implementation.
The proposal also creates a new, unnecessary program, the Airport and Airway Investment Program, designed in part to “reduce an airport’s carbon footprint…and thereby reduce aircraft fuel burn, [and] pollution.” The proposal lacks any framework and creates opportunity for wasteful spending and duplication of other federal government programs.
Republican Solutions for Infrastructure. In addition to busting the budget and being overly partisan, the House Democrat Majority’s proposal fails to reform the burdensome regulatory process, a major obstacle to efficient, effective infrastructure projects. Through the “One Federal Decision” strategy and the Trump Administration’s proposal to modernize the burdensome and outdated regulations of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, congressional Republicans and the Administration have prioritized regulatory reform and streamlining the permitting process for infrastructure projects. Initiatives like these will successfully speed up the development and execution of important projects across the country.
Further, Republicans recognize the importance of prioritizing infrastructure investments in rural America. Since 71 percent of our nation’s public road lane-mileage is in rural America, it is imperative that any infrastructure proposal include policies that benefit these areas. Congress must work in a bipartisan fashion to address issues that are critical to communities of all sizes.
Once again, House Democrats are promoting a hyper-partisan agenda that will not achieve the bipartisan support required to advance through a divided government.