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Tuesday, February 23, 2021

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

For years, politicians have talked about the need to revitalize America’s antiquated infrastructure from our roads and bridges to our energy grid and drinking water systems but little has been done to fix these urgent problems.

Today, we are seeing the consequences of this failure to act, as millions of Americans struggle with power outages and drinking water shortages that put their safety and livelihoods at risk.


Our leaders can’t say we weren’t warned. The American Society of Civil Engineers has pointed out repeatedly that much of our nation’s energy infrastructure was constructed decades ago, cautioning that “[w]ithout greater attention to aging equipment, capacity bottlenecks, and increased demand, as well as increasing storm and climate impacts, Americans will likely experience longer and more frequent power interruptions.” The group has also warned that many of America’s one million miles of water pipes “were laid in the early to mid-20th century with a lifespan of 75 to 100 years,” calling for improvements to keep water supplies safe and meet demands.

These devastating recent breakdowns explain why the organization has rated our nation’s infrastructure just a D+ overall. They also come at a time when our economy is already struggling, Americans are hurting and we need to create jobs and get our country moving again.

Not only is repairing America’s crumbling infrastructure a necessity it will also spur the creation of more middle-class jobs and a stronger economy for everyone.

We know that an ambitious investment in American infrastructure will create powerful incentives to put Americans back to work in good-paying jobs in manufacturing, construction and infrastructure in order to build our economy for the future. In fact, a study by Georgetown University estimates that a $1 trillion investment in infrastructure would create 11 million new American jobs over 10 years.

And the benefits to Americans go beyond millions of new jobs. Better electrical grids, drinking water systems, transportation, broadband communications and other technology upgrades will also:

• Rebuild America’s competitiveness in the world economy and stop our nation from falling behind, so our workers can compete on a level playing field with their global rivals;

• Help homegrown American businesses grow and prosper, so our Main Streets can thrive again;

• Improve the safety and quality of life of hardworking American families everywhere;

• Provide real opportunities for American workers who have been left behind including in our nation’s rural and minority communities.

Through responsible, commonsense legislation passed at the close of 2020, Congress has already made a down payment on infrastructure jobs. This legislation focused on the research, development and deployment of cutting-edge technologies to modernize America’s clean energy infrastructure.

And it provides a promising blueprint for breaking Washington gridlock and getting smart, job-creating infrastructure policies across the finish line in the new Congress.

Now is the time for Congress to follow through on what they have begun, by working together to enact an ambitious investment in our nation’s power grid, drinking water systems, roadways, broadband communications and more growing our economy and creating millions of jobs for hardworking Americans while improving the quality of life for everyone.

Let’s come together and invest in America’s infrastructure to rebuild our nation’s competitiveness, create millions of good-paying jobs for hardworking Americans right here at home and get America moving again to lead in the clean energy economy of the 21st century.

Investing in infrastructure will get America moving again it must be job number one for Congress.

• The Bipartisan Policy Center is a Washington, DC-based think tank that actively fosters bipartisanship by combining the best ideas from both parties to promote health, security, and opportunity for all Americans. Our policy solutions are the product of informed deliberations by former elected and appointed officials, business and labor leaders, and academics and advocates who represent both sides of the political spectrum.


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