As we recover from the coronavirus pandemic, both Republicans and Democrats have identified infrastructure as a critical opportunity to help reignite our economy and get Americans back to work.
But instead of rebuilding our roads and bridges, Democrats’ partisan infrastructure bill revamps their extreme agenda. The Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee admitted that Democrats’ INVEST in America Act is, “the application of the principles of the Green New Deal”—the $93 trillion scheme that promised to wreak havoc on our energy sector and economy.
Our country needs to rebuild and recover, not revisit a socialist pipedream.
As a member of the Infrastructure committee and Transportation Chair in the Iowa House, I passed legislation to help our communities pay for long-term infrastructure for flood protection and I worked to ensure equity for the road use tax fund to invest in our roads and bridges.
Even during a time of immense suffering and divide, I know that infrastructure is an issue where common ground exists. That’s why I’m disappointed to Congresswoman Finkenauer and her Democratic colleagues heap praise on their partisan plan.
The Green New Deal 2.0, or the INVEST in America Act, would spend about $123 billion on Green New Deal-related provisions, including electric car charging stations, “zero emission” buses and developing “low-carbon materials” for highway construction.
Instead of paying for crumbling roads and bridges, Congresswoman Finkenauer wants to pay for charging stations for pricey electric vehicles.
Over 160,000 Iowans are out of work. Our transportation industry that was thrusted into a period of grave uncertainty is already struggling to survive. Clogging infrastructure legislation with pork-barrel pet projects is partisan and wrong; it charts a sharp shift in direction for the transportation industry towards greater instability.
Furthermore, the Democrats’ bill lacks crucial flexibility for states, and it has been criticized for prioritizing funding for urban areas over rural communities. According to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, 71% of U.S. public road lane-mileage is in rural America.
Like many rural areas across the country, our communities in Iowa have water infrastructure in need of desperate repair. As Iowans continue to recover from 2018 and 2019 flooding, we are counting on our leaders to make sure our state has the flexibility and resources to strengthen flood control systems.
Frankly, it’s concerning that Congresswoman Finkenauer touts her party’s extreme priorities while communities she represents could be left behind. Increased investment in federal infrastructure funding should ensure that rural states have a chance to receive the critical funding they deserve.
Democrats should stop working behind closed doors and consider similar provisions in legislation that is already on the table. Two bipartisan bills advanced by Senator Joni Ernst—the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2020 and the Drinking Water Infrastructure Act of 2020—include several efforts to provide more flood control resources to Iowa’s small and rural communities.
In addition, any infrastructure bill must address the sustainability of the Highway Trust Fund. Democrats know that relying on fuel taxes as the primary source of funding for the Highway Trust Fund is not a long-term solution. We must stop passing the buck.
Democrats and Republicans should work together to champion legislation that prioritizes technological innovation that will increase efficiency and safety. Our leaders should also focus on streamlining permitting processes to reduce red tape which will ultimately yield better results and save taxpayers’ dollars.
The bottom line is infrastructure can and should be bipartisan. Washington politicians have a choice to put aside their partisan wish list and address our long-term infrastructure needs while sparking economic recovery at a time when our country needs it most.
As Congress focuses on infrastructure in the coming days and weeks ahead, hardworking Iowans are looking to our leaders to rebuild our country. Let’s be absolutely clear: now is not the time for partisan posturing. It’s time to get serious, get moving and help get Americans back to work.