March 25, 2021
Executive Vice President, Chief Policy Officer, and Head of Strategic Advocacy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
In a time of political divisiveness, it is more essential than ever that both parties in Congress find ways to work together. Despite being portrayed as enemies, Democrats and Republicans attempt to work together on issues that affect their respective districts. One issue that affects the entire country is that of infrastructure and transportation reform and development.
Every Congressional District in the United States has roads, bridges, highways, or public transportation systems. This infrastructure is essential for Americans to get to work and deliver products and services. Both political parties are attempting to work across the aisle to solve their district’s infrastructure needs. Here’s how.
To Solve Their Differences, Congressional Leaders Need to Find Common Ground
Since Representative Rodney Davis of Illinois represents a rural area, he doesn't have too much in common with Massachusetts Representative Seth Moulton. However, for the two to mend the difference in their distinct needs, they need to find common ground.
“One of the things I try to do first is just establish where we do have common ground,” said Representative Moulton. “And then where you find that you have disagreements … we can be smart about thinking about what the right balance is to make sure that every community in America is adequately served.”
Representative Davis agrees that while every district is different, there are more similarities than not.
“One thing I found out in Congress is … if you go in with the attitude that we agree a majority of the time, more than we disagree, we can always find that balanced bill.”
Both Parties Agree the Gas Tax Is a Short-Term Solution to Pay for Infrastructure
Currently, the small tax that drivers pay when they fill up their vehicles is used to cover infrastructure. However, both political parties don't believe that this is a long-term solution.
“The federal government, on one hand, is telling car manufacturers to make engines that burn less gas, and at the same time, we're only relying upon gas tax for the highway trust fund,” said Representative Davis.
He added that, instead of looking at the gas tax as our only source of funding infrastructure, we should diversify our sources and view it more as a 401(k) investment.
While Representative Moulton agrees that it is not the solution, he believes it may just need to be updated.
“We haven't raised the gas tax since 1993, even just to keep pace with inflation,” he said. “We have to make huge general fund transfers from all taxpayers, including taxpayers in my district, not all of whom even have cars, in order to pay for the highway trust fund. Trying to find some common ground, but also recognizing that we've had systems in place that have worked in the past and maybe they just need to be updated, is one thing I think we need to talk about.”
Digital Infrastructure Is a Priority for Both Parties
Both political parties aren’t just fighting to update the physical infrastructure that impacts their constituents. They’re focused on digital infrastructure as well.
“In the past, when the government has funded rural broadband expansion through the Connect America funding programs, they haven't held companies accountable to actually living up to the standards and the speeds that they promised,” said Representative Davis.
The United States needs to be better at providing these services to all areas of the country to stay competitive globally.
“The growing tech divide in our country is exacerbating racial gaps and the urban-rural divide … that already exist and are already tearing our country apart,” said Representative Moulton. “[5G networks are] a technology that's going to enable an internet of things. It's going to enable autonomous driving. It's going to enable all sorts of capabilities that we don't have right now.”
He added that 5G is important for our national security and for staying competitive against China.
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