Our nation suffers the consequences of our poorly maintained infrastructure every day—whether it’s traveling down a pothole-ridden road on the way to work, driving the long way around a weight-restricted bridge to get a truckload of grain to market, or worrying while the school bus takes your child to school down a narrow roadway littered with blind turns and narrow one-lane bridges.
These aren’t new problems—and that makes it even more frustrating. Congress regularly takes a look at what’s working and what’s not with our nation’s infrastructure. It is clear there is much work to be done if we can just come together on an issue that is generally bipartisan.
Just maintaining, much less improving, our roads and bridges requires a steady source of funding. Our Highway Trust Fund, which helps pay for our network of highways and bridges across the country, is still funded the same way it has been since 1956, through the federal fuel tax on gasoline and diesel fuel. A lot has changed since then. Not only have cars become much more fuel efficient, but the hundreds of thousands of alternative fuels vehicles now on the roads aren’t paying their fair share for maintaining those roads. That’s a lot of lost revenue that could and should be coming in. Before we can properly invest in rebuilding our roads and bridges, this must be fixed.
Further impeding our progress on fixing our infrastructure is miles of regulatory red tape. Over the last 64 years, the federal bureaucracy in Washington has exploded, and the number of burdensome regulations that delay critical infrastructure projects and cost taxpayers millions in endless studies and inefficient reviews has dramatically increased. The result is that not only do we have a smaller budget to fix our infrastructure, but we’ve got a lot of red tape that keeps our taxpayer dollars from going as far as they should. We’ve got to fix this too, by streamlining review processes to get projects done on time and on budget.
Although bureaucratic red tape and securing adequate funding are serious challenges, the greatest roadblock we face on the path to fixing our infrastructure doesn’t have anything to do with roads or bridges—it’s petty partisan politics in Washington. Last year, there was significant interest in working on a broad, bipartisan bill to address many of these problems, yet Speaker Pelosi’s petty personal feud with President Trump brought things to a screeching halt.
Politics shouldn’t get in the way of repairing, updating, and improving our infrastructure. There are no Republican roads or Democratic bridges, and potholes don’t just cause headaches for conservatives or liberals, they’re a pain in the rear end for all of us. I’m ready to get a real, bipartisan infrastructure bill done that clears these roadblocks, incorporates new innovations, gives our states flexibility, and prioritizes core programs while giving our rural communities a fair shake for once. I just hope my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are finally willing to get some real work done.