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Monday, May 23, 2022

OPINION:

When I came to Congress in 1987, I pursued committee assignments where I could impact transportation policy because as a conservative, I was driven by my conviction in the Constitution to defend our nation and invest in our nation’s infrastructure.

As a senior member and former chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), I understand the vital need to improve our roads, bridges and infrastructure to connect communities, empower economic productivity, and create jobs across America. To that end, I have authored many landmark, bipartisan transportation and water resources laws, including the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) Act in 2005, the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2007, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) in 2012, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) in 2014, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act in 2015 and the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act in 2016.


My first major highway bill, SAFETEA-LU, provided billions of dollars towards real and needed infrastructure projects across the nation. The law significantly enhanced our nation’s transportation system and created jobs for millions of Americans. And just two years later, Congress overrode a Presidential Veto to pass WRDA 2007 to authorize numerous critical water resources projects in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. This law re-instated Congress‘ regular oversight over Army Corps of Engineers projects to ensure water infrastructure needs were addressed in a fiscally responsible manner.

All of these bills were enacted into law because former Sen. Barbara Boxer and I put partisanship aside and focused on providing commonsense solutions to our infrastructure challenges in a reasonable and responsible manner. Unlike all of these bipartisan bills, the Biden administration is intent on massive spending and tax hikes to prioritize a radical climate agenda instead of focusing on what truly matters. Last year’s so-called infrastructure package was, unfortunately, a grab-bag of bad policy decisions that focused on liberal wish-list items like propping up electric vehicles rather than sound policy that provides concrete investment in our nation’s transportation infrastructure.

I urge my colleagues to remember that states are best equipped to decide where to prioritize funding for vital infrastructure projects, not Washington bureaucrats. When far-left idealists decide they know better than each individual state, Oklahomans suffer the consequences. As we continue to look to the future of infrastructure policy, it is vital to allow states like Oklahoma to stay in the driver’s seat to empower economic growth.

Though you don’t hear about it happening much these days, Republicans are working in a bipartisan way on infrastructure. I am grateful to have a colleague like Sen. Shelley Moore Capito to continue to champion infrastructure investment while working with Democrats. It starts with finding common ground and shared goals that ensure our roads, bridges, airports and waterways work for this country. That’s what it’s all about: getting results for the American people and leaving our nation’s infrastructure in a better condition for our children, their children and all future generations to come. Congress has a legacy of bipartisanship when it comes to infrastructure investment and we can’t afford to stop now.

• U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, serves as Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He is also a member of the Small Business Committee and the Environment & Public Works Committee where he leads the Clean Air, Climate, and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee as Ranking Member. Sen. Inhofe is an avid pilot and committed supporter of infrastructure for the U.S. to drive the world’s economy.


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