Early Light

By Ryan Clancy | July 28, 2021

Americans Need Infrastructure Investment Now

Beyond the Beltway, Americans want the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework passed.

Our No Labels/HarrisX poll found that 72% of voters in key congressional districts support the BIF. That’s not just a statistic; those are real people.

This week, more than 140 business leaders signed a letter urging the passage of the BIF, which they called “a long-awaited and desperately needed program to renew and rebuild our nation’s crumbling infrastructure.” The situation is dire. CBS reported Tuesday evening that “bridges are in trouble nationwide: 42% are at least 50 years old, 220,000 need repair work…and nearly 80,000 need to be replaced.”

Fortunately, leaders of both parties at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue are rising to the call. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) met with the president on Tuesday, and White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said afterward that both are “optimistic about the path forward.” Psaki told reporters, “We see momentum is moving in a positive direction.”

And Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) and White House counselor Steve Ricchetti worked into the evening Tuesday. Portman also urged Donald Trump to get behind the BIF despite the former president’s earlier criticism, saying, “I’m going to try to keep him informed of what we’re doing, because I think it’s important that we continue to have this be bipartisan. It’s not a victory for one party or the other, in my view, it’s a victory for the American people.”

Politico writes, “If you called central casting for a senator to cut a bipartisan infrastructure deal, you’d get Rob Portman.” Said Senate Minority Whip John Thune, “He’s probably the perfect guy on our side for this.” The AP said that by Tuesday evening, “all sides — the White House, Republicans and Democrats — sounded upbeat that an accord was within reach.”

Even Senate Majority Leader Schumer, who imperiled the BIF with an early test vote last week, is “not setting a hard deadline,” Politico reports, and says “he will keep the Senate in session until it finishes its work on Biden’s top priority.”

The BIF will get done in the Senate. The real challenge may be the House, where Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), who chairs the Transportation Committee, is threatening to derail the plan, Politico reports, regardless of what the White House wants. And he may be swaying House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who says the House may not take up what the Senate passes without revisions. Hoyer said, “We’re not in a take-it-or-leave-it psychology at this point in time.”

We’ve come too far, and the need is too great, for partisan games and bigfooting by committee chairs to stand in the way. Both parties, and both chambers, can get this done now.

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