Infrastructure is about as ripe an issue as any to actually get something major done in a bipartisan, cooperative way. Congress has a history of successfully working across the aisle to advance policies that improve roads and bridges, invest in water systems and broadband deployment. President Joe Biden should look to the positive example of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee as a starting point for legislation to modernize our infrastructure.
Just weeks ago, the EPW Committee unanimously passed, with my support, the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act. Last Congress, the committee unanimously passed America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act to provide resources and long-term certainty for states and local governments to build safer and more modern highways, railways and bridges.
I’ve been proud to support investments to upgrade our drinking and wastewater systems, ports and waterways, energy grid and rural broadband deployment in addition to repairing and modernizing traditional infrastructure like roads, railways and runways. Congress has delivered millions of dollars for airport upgrades across Arkansas in recent months. My colleagues and I have provided federal infrastructure funding that has supported road improvements in heavily trafficked areas like the Bella Vista Bypass, Hot Springs bypass extension and a railroad overpass in Monticello. Last Congress, I developed a new method to make it more affordable for rural communities to update their water and wastewater systems. These are just some examples of the work I’ve been involved in to help meet infrastructure needs in our communities.
It’s clear that strong bipartisan support for long-term national infrastructure improvement policy exists in Congress.
President Biden recently released a plan which claims to focus on rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure, but his proposal is attempting to reinvent the wheel and worse, lacks emphasis on infrastructure, advances partisan priorities and raises taxes.
Unlike the House of Representatives and the Biden administration, who continue to undermine bipartisanship by developing and advancing a progressive policy agenda, the Senate has been working in a bipartisan manner to find solutions for our transportation challenges.
A bipartisan infrastructure bill is one way the president can demonstrate his willingness to work across the aisle. However, his initial steps and those of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle raise serious questions about how committed they are to collaborating with Republicans.
My advice to President Biden is simple –– the path forward to achieve long-term infrastructure improvement is through bipartisanship. We cannot tolerate a partisan process where only one side gets to offer input, with the end result being a liberal wish list of projects and priorities that have nothing to do with infrastructure investment.
There is no reason we need to start at the beginning of the legislative process. The Senate EPW Committee has already done much of the work. My colleagues and I have produced bipartisan infrastructure-related legislation, which can and should be the basis for any infrastructure proposal.
Now more than ever, we need comprehensive, bipartisan infrastructure legislation that spurs economic growth and development, and helps us stay competitive globally.
We must focus our energy and efforts on bipartisanship so we can produce the result most Americans are looking for rather than a bitter political fight that reinforces the idea that we can’t work together. I will support an infrastructure bill that focuses on sensible, needed investments that better connect our communities, enhance our quality of life and is crafted in a bipartisan manner.
John Boozman is a U.S. Senator from Arkansas. He is a Republican.