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Problem Solvers Promote Bipartisan Solutions to America’s Infrastructure Crisis

April 23, 2021 by TWN Staff

A new report prepared by the Problem Solvers Caucus offers an astonishing array of bipartisan recommendations on how to rebuild and responsibly invest in the nation’s woefully out-of-date and sagging infrastructure.

Just 20 pages long, the report, which has been endorsed by at least 75% members of the caucus, Republicans and Democrats alike, lays out the breath of the problem; the many roads, bridges, highways, transit systemes, airports, energy systems, ports, and tech networks, among other pieces of our physical world, in dire of refurbishment.

But it manages to go beyond that to detail the scope of bipartisan agreement on the nation’s transportation and infrastructure needs.

“We cannot afford four more years of crumbling bridges, roads, and tunnels, lead-filled pipes, and failed transportation, which is why the Problem Solvers Caucus is putting partisanship aside to find a solution that brings both parties to the table,” said Problem Solvers Caucus Co-Chair Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J. 

“Our new report provides a bipartisan foundation to actually solve the infrastructure issues facing both my home district in North Jersey and our nation, like finally investing in the Gateway Tunnel. We’re ready to work with our partners in the Senate and with the Administration to get a bipartisan infrastructure package done,” Gottheimer said.

In some respects, the report is staggering. America’s infrastructure supports the world’s largest economy across a network of over 4 million miles of roadway,

160,000 public water systems, 5.5 million miles of local electrical distribution lines, and over 100 million fixed broadband subscribers. 

“Unfortunately, due to years of underinvestment and deferred maintenance, America is no longer keeping pace and continues to fall behind other countries,” the authors write. 

“By some estimates, the funding gap may be as high as $2 trillion by 2025 across all sectors of American infrastructure,” it adds.

Refusing to blink in the face of the challenge, the Problem Solvers Caucus goes on to explain how through modernizing existing user fees, incentivizing private innovation and investment through public-private partnerships, making smarter investments with limited federal dollars, and hardening  infrastructure and transportation systems to be more resilient in the face of climate change and natural disasters, Congress can build a 21st Century infrastructure that truly works for every American.

The solutions offered up by the caucus were developed by its Infrastructure Working Group, led by co-chairs John Katko, R-N.Y., and Connor Lamb, D-Pa., using a consensus-driven approach, considering the collective ideas of all 58 of its members, as well as a signifiant number of industry and governmental stakeholders.

Each topical section features a problem statement followed by sections spelling out possible solutions and funding sources. In some cases, the sections go on to offer multiple approaches for dealing with the  same problem.

“The time is now for Congress and the Administration to reach across the aisle, unite, and boost investments in our surface transportation network that will move our transportation systems into the 21st century,” said Problem Solvers Caucus Co-Chair Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa. 

It is vitally important that we build a bridge and put together bipartisan legislation that is both responsive to local needs and worthy of the public’s trust. Infrastructure investment can and will deliver real benefits to every American and additionally, has the unique power to unite us as a nation,” he said.

Reflecting on the work that went into the report, Rep. Lamb said, “we did what the American people always ask of us: we worked togethers, across the aisle, to move forward on investments that will make America stronger, safer, and more competitive.”

Rep. Katko expressed a similar sense of pride in the work and what it produced.

“Infrastructure has been among my top priorities since coming to Congress and is why I sought to serve on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee,” he said. “This report .. includes a bipartisan set of politics that serve to modernize our nation’s infrastructure across a wide range of sectors.

“I’m glad this issue is getting the bipartisan attention it so badly deserves in Congress and I believe this plan can serve as a blueprint for producing a compromise infrastructure package that meets the needs of communities across the nation,” he said.

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