Legislators say that infrastructure efforts are falling victim to the deepening of partisan divisions. | The Washington Newsday

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Partisan politics and deadlocked negotiations over another COVID-19 relief bill are hampering progress on urgently needed infrastructure legislation, lawmakers said Thursday.

“We need to do more, and the only way to do more is to get policymakers back out of infrastructure,” said Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) at The Hill’s “America’s Agenda”: Infrastructure event. “Unfortunately, that’s what destroyed any long-term infrastructure bill we could have passed to tackle our crumbling roads and bridges.

Davis, a four-term legislator and the senior Republican on the House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure for highways and transit, said he had witnessed “cross-party cooperation in the past” on legislation such as the Highway Reauthorization Act, but months of pandemic preparedness negotiations are worsening relations between the two parties and impacting issues such as infrastructure.

“For the first time in my congressional career, we saw the Highway Reauthorization Act become a biased law, and that’s disappointing,” he told Washington Newsday Steve Clemons.

Congressman @RodneyDavis on the One Federal Decision Act: “It’s a bill that … reduces the regulatory burden … …reduce the regulatory burden… to get to construction and investment so that our taxpayers’ money goes to something the American taxpayer can see” #TheHillInfrastructure https://t.co/bgUUArHMgq pic.twitter.com/ZZT8dso0c5

– The Hill Events (@TheHillEvents) October 29, 2020

Congressman Sam Graves (R-Mo.), the senior member of the Transport and Infrastructure Committee of the House of Representatives, who also spoke at the event, expressed the desire for a separate bill for the aviation industry.

“Right now, in the middle of this pandemic, we also have an aviation crisis, so this must be a priority,” he said. “We have to get it done and we have to get it done immediately. Unfortunately, politics plays a role in this process, so it is somehow blocked in these negotiations when it comes to the general relief of COVID.

[email protected]: “Infrastructure is something the government should do and should do it well. Be it the maintenance and construction of our roads and bridges, the maintenance of a pipeline structure, inland navigation, aviation, railroads…”. #TheHillInfrastructure https://t.co/bgUUArHMgq pic.twitter.com/cdZFzLEaN6

– The Hill Events (@TheHillEvents) October 29, 2020

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he did not want infrastructure legislation to be considered part of a possible coronavirus relief package.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.D.C.), head of the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, said infrastructure projects are uniquely suited to support the economy in the pandemic.

“What would boost our economy now more than an infrastructure bill,” she said, “Infrastructure can be operated without physical proximity, one of the few types of work that can be done now,” she said.

Norton criticized Republicans who voted against the $1.5 trillion Moving Forward Act, an infrastructure bill that included projects to combat climate change. The bill would also provide for the funding of roads and bridges, while requiring states to commit to carbon reduction and other climate change mitigation measures to obtain funding.

“Every Republican in the House voted against our bill,” she said, “They were largely against the environmental sections, but we are at a time when everyone is focusing on climate change and it would be a fundamental mistake not to begin taking some steps on environmental issues.

Congressman @EleanorNorton: “We are in a time where everyone is focused on climate change and it would be a fundamental mistake not to start taking some steps on environmental issues” #TheHillInfrastructure https://t.co/bgUUArHMgq pic.twitter.com/1JBPPhHRr2

– The Hill Events (@TheHillEvents) October 29, 2020

The White House threatened to veto the “Moving Forward Act” on the grounds that it would abolish or reduce environmental inspections and that it would not provide enough resources for rural America.

Davis said the House’s divided stance was “not good for the way our country should be governed,” but he predicted that after the election progress could be made on infrastructure legislation.

“I am optimistic that once we get this whole election behind us, we will return to the lame duck session, that it is common sense policy to openly set policy aside and enforce it”.

via The Washington Newsday

October 31, 2020 at 07:21PM

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