America is currently in the midst of historic economic growth. The strength of the U.S. economy is undeniable as GDP, job creation and unemployment figures continue to exceed all expectations.
While these economic indicators are promising, we can still do more to better our economy. Unleashing the full potential of America’s businesses requires strategic investments in infrastructure.
Since President Trump was elected, he’s worked to implement a pro-growth, America First agenda. Those efforts have ignited our economy. We’ve seen record low unemployment, steady wage growth and the creation of nearly 7 million jobs over the past three years. Americans are winning under this economy, and optimism is nearing an all-time high.
This growth is being fueled by generational tax cuts and regulatory reform, which we battled for and passed during the 115th Congress. These policies created an economic environment that allowed businesses of all sizes to thrive, encouraging job creation and new investment. More significantly, it allowed Americans to keep more of their hard-earned paychecks. The result is greater buying power, investment potential and confidence from American businesses and families.
Every American can recognize these successes. However, we should not grow complacent. America can take our economy to the next level with investments in safe, modern and reliable infrastructure. Our roads, bridges, airfields, railways and water management systems are foundational elements of our economy. Without robust infrastructure systems, interstate commerce and international trade would not be possible. Investing in these assets supports existing businesses and drives new economic development. Expanded capacity for trade and commerce means new jobs, increased revenues and stronger GDP growth.
To put this in perspective, we can look to my home state. Louisiana has five of the top 15 ports in the United States. Each serves as a heartbeat of economic activity for their surrounding community. These ports are critical for farmers and energy producers looking to conduct domestic and global trade. Louisiana’s maritime industry generates billions in annual federal revenues and supports over 100,000 direct and indirect jobs. In my district alone, there are over $120 billion in announced and ongoing projects reliant upon local ports.
However, the success of these ports and the realization of new industrial projects are directly tied to the condition of maritime infrastructure. The width and depth of our waterways dictate what size ships can access Louisiana’s ports, how heavy of a cargo load can be sustained, and how many ships can access these ports at a given time. Current investments in dredging have allowed Louisiana to maintain minimum standards for our waterways, although with increased investment we would see larger ships, increased load capacity and greater federal revenue.
This is an example of our untapped economic potential. The same is true nationwide where outdated and deteriorating infrastructure has constrained growth. To realize America’s full economic potential, we must make strategic investments in our roads, bridges, railways, airfields and waterways. We must also take steps to reduce bureaucratic obstacles that have unnecessarily delayed new infrastructure projects.
Throughout our history, America has been a nation of builders. We should embrace that heritage once again.
During the 115th Congress, we advanced small wins on infrastructure, including the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) and the FAA Reauthorization Act. These measures help advance the mission, but Congress must do more to prioritize bipartisan gains on infrastructure.
President Trump has called for meaningful infrastructure investments and reforms to the regulatory and permitting process. My office is supportive of efforts to streamline and eliminate many of the barriers delaying new projects. However, Congress hasn’t acted upon these proposals.
We should not allow bipartisan progress on infrastructure to fall victim to the partisan impeachment inquiry that is ongoing in the House of Representatives. Across America, there are infrastructure assets in great need of repair and replacement. Doing so will build upon our current economic success, serve as a catalyst for new growth and benefit the lives of hardworking American families. This should be a top priority for Congress.
If we do what is necessary, every American will continue to win.
• Rep. Clay Higgins, Louisiana Republican, serves on the House Homeland Security Committee and the House Oversight and Reform Committee.
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