“Investing in our nation’s infrastructure shouldn’t be a partisan issue — it’s just common sense.”
That was House Problem Solvers Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) way back in the spring of 2019, when the caucus came together to lay out a detailed bipartisan infrastructure proposal. Two and a half years later, success is on the horizon.
By the end of this month, the House will vote on a bipartisan infrastructure bill that will be the…
· Largest investment in public transit in U.S. history
· Largest investment in passenger rail since Amtrak was created a half-century ago
· Largest investment in bridges since the construction of the interstate highway system
· Largest investment in clean drinking water and wastewater infrastructure in U.S. history
· Largest investment in clean energy transmission in U.S. history
Presidents and legislators have been talking about infrastructure reform for decades. It took two-party cooperation to actually get us this close to getting something done.
In April, No Labels National Co-Chair Gov. Larry Hogan (R-MD) hosted Problem Solvers, No Labels Senate allies, and three other governors at the Governor’s Mansion in Annapolis for a bipartisan infrastructure summit. At that time, Hogan said, “Although we come from different parties and different levels of government, all of us are united in our commitment to bipartisan action to rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure.”
Two months later, talks between the White House and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) on an infrastructure plan broke down. But the very next day, a group of senators led by Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) came forward with a new plan based on the framework developed in Annapolis. By the end of June, President Biden and a group of 23 senators had reached a deal. Biden called it “a true bipartisan effort.”
The Problem Solvers agreed, and enthusiastically endorsed the bill: “The bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus strongly supports the Senate infrastructure framework. … In light of the bipartisan, bicameral genesis of the framework, we encourage an expeditious, stand-alone vote in the House.”
On August 10, a bipartisan infrastructure plan that started with No Labels’ allies in Annapolis and that appeared dead just two months earlier, passed the Senate on a solid 69-30 two-party vote — with both Majority Leader Schumer and Minority Leader McConnell in favor. After the vote, Biden called on the House to send it to his desk “as soon as possible so we can continue our work of building back better.”
Gottheimer and eight other House Democrats then took on the leadership, demanding a stand-alone vote on infrastructure, delinked from a $3.5 trillion one-party social spending and climate bill. “Time kills deals,” they warned in a WaPo op-ed. “Let’s do infrastructure first.”
Their resolve led Speaker Pelosi to commit to a vote by September 27, when legislators of both parties should come together to pass this vital legislation. As Gottheimer said back at the start, “It’s just common sense.”
We have a long way to go still to get this bipartisan infrastructure bill over the finish line. But it’s worth a reminder just how far we’ve come.