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Rebuilding American Infrastructure – and the Middle Class
Commentary

Court Avenue Bridge (WHO-HD/Drone13)

February 1, 2019

By Rep. Brendan F. Boyle and Rep. Marc Veasey

In America, our infrastructure is crumbling. We have 130,000 bridges deemed structurally deficient. Amtrak trains operate well below their maximum speed because of outdated tracks. Twenty-four million Americans still don’t have access to broadband internet.

And in America, our blue-collar workers are struggling. Wages have been stagnant for years while CEO pay has skyrocketed. Unions are disintegrating, and with them, the benefits that kept working families afloat. Globalization and automation are sending their jobs overseas or eliminating them altogether.

It’s rare that two problems this large can be so perfectly addressed by one policy solution: a federally-funded infrastructure package. Such a package would fund necessary infrastructure projects throughout our nation, from repairing old water mains to reinforcing tunnels to spreading LTE cell service to rural America. And in the process, it would create millions of good-paying jobs for hardworking Americans.

As the co-chairs of the Blue Collar Caucus, a group of Democratic representatives focused on leveling the playing field for America’s working people, we are dead-set on delivering these jobs and infrastructure improvements for the American people.

President Trump and Republicans in Congress have talked about an infrastructure push for years now, but instead decided to focus on trying to take health insurance away from millions and giving tax breaks to the wealthiest among us. But now, as Democrats enter the House majority, we’re going to shift Congress’s focus toward helping working people, with an infrastructure package front and center. And given the President’s purported support for such funding as a candidate, we believe with enough tenacity, we can make it a reality.

This infrastructure push may not be as flashy as those of bygone eras. We already have interstate highways connecting our major cities thanks to President Eisenhower’s push in the 1950s. There may be no ribbon cutting for some brand new international airport, since, again, most major American cities already have one. But that doesn’t make this new infrastructure push any less important.

We can invest in green energy sources and efficiency measures that will make our electric grid resilient for generations to come. We can improve the digital infrastructure in public schools so that all children, no matter their zip code, learn using modern technology and get the chance to succeed in today’s economy. We can make our water, our roads, our railroads, and our air travel safer. And we can accomplish all of this without adding a cent to the deficit.

This past November, we, the Democratic Party, campaigned on the promise of creating good jobs through rebuilding America’s infrastructure, and the American people resoundingly voted for it. Now, it’s time to deliver. We’re going to bring America’s transportation, communication, and energy sources into the 21stcentury. We’re going to invest in American families. We’re going to put working people first.

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